Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

September 12, 2011

County extends burn ban

RUSK — The burn ban in Cherokee County was extended for another 90 days Monday, but commissioners left the door open to place further restrictions on outdoor burning.

“You can't restrict every spark,” County Judge Chris Davis said during the commissioners regular meeting Monday morning. “We're in dangerous times.”

However, Davis suggested county officials look at burn bans in surrounding counties and see if Cherokee's should be strengthened.

On Monday, Cherokee County — along with most of East Texas — remained under an “enhanced risk for wildfire” warning by the National Weather Service in Shreveport.

In a public comment portion of the meeting, county resident John Rayburn said that he saw man welding on a gate near his 130 acres of woodland over the weekend.

The problem, Rayburn said, was that the man did not have someone spotting for trouble while the man had welder's goggles on.

People, Rayburn said, “have got no concept” of what constitutes fire dangers.

Rayburn also questioned that there was only a $500 fine for outdoor burning.

Davis said the county's burn ban was based upon the guidelines set by the Texas Forest Service and that the offense is a Class C  misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine up to $500.

“Bottom line, it's a $500 fine,” he said, but noted that any losses would be a civil matter.

Other area counties were also taking a look at their current burn bans.

On Monday, Anderson County extended and strengthened its burn ban. The new burn ban order  specifies that charcoal grilling will not be allowed in the county. Gas grilling will be permitted if not left unattended and turned off immediately after use. There will no longer be warnings issued for burn ban violations. Violators will be ticketed immediately.

Smith County's ban on outdoor burning contains restrictions on outdoor welding, which includes having a spotters, 10 gallons of water must be kept on hand and no welding if winds are greater than 20 mph, according to an order issued on July 12.

The Palestine Herald Press contributed to this story.

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