Hot, dry conditions spark burn ban in Angelina County

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - About 11% of the state of Texas is experiencing the two most severe stages of drought--extreme and exceptional. Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Houston are baking, and water restrictions never before used in the Alamo City could be days away.

Here in East Texas, fire bans are being issued as the threat of imminent danger to life and property increases.

Janice Wright's backyard nearly caught fire a few years ago. "It was windy and it got loose," said Wright.

She understands why the county has posted a ban on burning. She just doesn't know what to do with brush piles and other debris the wind blows her way. "We burn limbs and stuff like that because there's not a pick-up service for that," said Wright.

Wright said they burn about twice a month. Some of her neighbors burn everyday. "Some of them do all the time because they don't have garbage pick-up," said Wright.

Wright fears illegal burning could create a big mess. "It's nine acres of trees," she said while pointing to hundreds of pine trees. "When it goes you know it would go and let's just hope that never happens."

Mahlon Hammetter, fire prevention specialist, said the scorching heat and extremely dry conditions put the breaks on burning. "That's obviously dry," he said as grass crackled between his fingers.

"That little fire that maybe just could creep through the grass then could get to some heavier fuels there that could really fuel a very damaging and destructive wildfire," said Hammetter.

Something Wright knows would be difficult to put-out. "Even good intentions and watching it sometimes gets of hand," said Wright.

She hopes rain will come soon.  "That's in the good Lord's hands," said Wright. Until then, Wright said don't take a chance...don't burn anything.

Burning anything right now is extremely dangerous and comes with a steep fine of $500. Those that don't have trash pick-up can dump their garbage at the Angelina County landfill until the burn ban is lifted.

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