One by one, fire departments across the county were paged Wednesday morning and notified that a burn ban has been reinstated.

The ban, issued by County Judge Tab Thompson and commissioners, went into effect Wednesday.

Fire Coordinator Chris Gable said despite recent rain showers, the drought index is dangerously high and weather conditions are extremely dry, creating a thriving environment for fire.

"The long-range forecast calls for hot, dry weather," Gable said. "As a whole community, the fire danger and public safety hazard is there and justified enough to put a burn ban in effect."

Gable also said approximately eight counties surrounding Erath have also issued burn bans.

The order restricts all outdoor burning, with the exception of outdoor cooking appliances equipped with a lid and activities related to public health and safety authorized and permitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for firefighting training, public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations or harvesting of agricultural crop.

The burn ban will also heavily effect welders, who will be required to follow fire-prevention efforts, including:

All areas where welding, cutting or grinding operations are being performed will be free of vegetation for at least 25 feet in all directions.

Surface around welding area will be wetted down.

Wind speeds must be no more than 20 miles per hour while performing welding, cutting or grinding operations outside of barriers or enclosures.

A dedicated fire watch person will attend each welder, cutter, grinder and any activity that causes a spark.

A minimum of one water pressure fire extinguisher per fire watch person is required.

A minimum of 25 gallons of water on site.

Each site will have cellular telephone communications for emergency response.

All welding, cutting and grinding operations may be performed in a total welding enclosure or "welding box" that is sufficiently high to control sparks and includes a fire retardant cover over the top. Wind speeds must not exceed 30 miles per hour while utilizing an enclosure.

The burn ban will be in effect for 90 days, unless restrictions are terminated earlier by the commissioners' court. Violation of the burn ban order is a class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.