Hemphill County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday morning to reinstate the countywide outdoor burn, effective immediately. The burn ban imposes harsh restrictions on outdoor activities that could endanger public health and safety.
Commissioners agreed that low humidity, abundant fuel, unseasonably warm temperatures and high winds combined create a reasonable threat of wildfires. The use of combustible materials in an outdoor environment by any person is prohibited. Combustible materials include, but are not limited to, fireworks, discarded cigarettes or other flammable materials, and any other activity that could result in a wildfire.
The order prohibits all outdoor burning throughout the county and imposes special restrictions on welding. Guidelines require the use of a spotter for each welder, cutter or grinder and for any activity that could cause a spark. In addition, a minimum 25’ diameter around the welding area must be cleared of vegetation and kept wet, at least 10 gallons of water and one water pressure or ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher with 2.5-gallons capacity must be available for each spotter, and one spare must be present on-site. No welding is permitted if winds are 20 mph or greater.
Each welding rig must have a Class B chemical fire extinguisher with at least 10-pounds capacity. If the work area cannot be cleared of vegetation, proper precautionary measures—such as utilizing fire resistant tarps to protect brush—must be taken. Welding in an enclosed area is acceptable. No welding is permitted if winds are 20 miles per hour or greater.
A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally violates a prohibition or restriction established by an order adopted under this section. Violations of the countywide burn ban can result in a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.
The ban will remain in effect until further notice, but may be rescinded at any time by County Judge George Briant if sufficient rainfall occurs.