Authorities say burn ban citations are 'out of control' - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Authorities say burn ban citations are 'out of control'

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - On our KLTV 7 News Facebook fan page, we've seen many of you continuously ask, "What do people not understand about burn bans?"

In fact, authorities say that even with the repeated warnings, they are still ticketing dozens of illegal burners every week.

The citations for illegal burning have overwhelmed the Smith County Fire Marshal's Office. Mary Thompson is in charge of filing the reports. She's trying to finish, so the county can apply for federal funds. Thompson says they desperately need it considering sheriff's deputies have had to answer illegal burn calls because of the multitude of fires.

"That's where it gets aggravating to us," said Thompson. "The fire marshals trying to do their job and you're sending them out on these illegal burns and they shouldn't even have to go out on them, especially after they've been out all night on a wildfire, 460 acre fire, no sleep, they're exhausted and then they go out to a stupidity call."

"It's getting very dangerous. The people are being recklessly stupid by doing this outdoor burning," said Jim Seaton with the Smith County Fire Marshal's Office.

Since mid-July, Seaton says they've written more than a hundred citations in Smith County. He says despite the fire break out across East Texas last week, people continue to choose to burn.

"One of my assistant fire marshal's this morning was told very explicitly to get off the property and Saturday night Chapel Hill Fire Department responded to a location and shots were fired," he said.

As authorities work to keep smoke and flames at bay, they're asking the public to simply stop burning until the ban is lifted.

Rusk County authorities say they've seen people burning trash in their grills. That does not count as grilling out. Authorities say that is still considered burning illegally and you can still be ticketed.

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