Erath County burn ban reinstated

E-T staff report
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Last week, Erath County Judge Alfonso Campos temporarily lifted a burn ban that was issued for the county on Dec. 14.

As of Monday, Jan. 4, "Erath County has reinstated the burn ban today. Effective immediately no outdoor burning is allowed," according to a social media post from the Sheriff's Office. 

According to a statement on the county's website at www.co.erath.tx.us when the ban was issued, the Commissioners Court determined that "circumstances present in the unincorporated area of the county create a public safety hazard that would be exacerbated by outdoor burning."

The Commissioners Court order states that all outdoor burning is banned until further notice, when restrictions are terminated based on a determination made by the court, including welding.

The order does not prohibit outdoor burning activities related to public health and safety that are authorized and permitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for (1) firefighters training; (2) public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations; or (3) harvesting of agricultural crop. The exception will be any outdoor cooking appliances designed for preparing food with a containment lid.

The order states that if welding must be performed in the field, the following efforts will be in force until the fire emergency declaration has expired:

• 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 mph 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 cellphone 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. Winds speeds must not exceed 30 mph while using an enclosure.

A violation of the order is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.