LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Gregg County is presently under a burn ban, and although it is always illegal to burn in the city limits of Longview, The Longview Fire Department is advising extreme caution when grilling or using fire pits.
Fire Marshal Kevin May says no rain, paired with wind and dry conditions, will eventually mean a burn ban in the county. He doesn't make that call, that's up to the county fire marshal. As far as vegetation, May says looks can be deceiving.
"Some stuff even looks like it may be green, but down on the bottom surface it's just dry," May said.
Thus the ban on burning trash and debris in the county. May says since the city has yard waste pickup, it's rarely legal to burn in the city.
"There are some provisions that can be made for burn permits, but when the county goes under a burn ban, then pretty much all burning ceases," May stated.
Because of conditions, he says, not even construction companies will get burn permits.
Fire pits are legal in the city limits, but only if they're gas or used with hardwoods or something you would cook with.
"You cannot burn leaves, you can't burn construction material, you can't burn any yard debris or anything like that. That would be a violation of the fire code," May said.
"Even if you're using a fire pit?" I asked.
"Even if you're using a fire pit," he replied.
That's true all the time, but during a county burn ban, the city advises to never leave a burning fire pit. If an errant ember starts a fire:
"They can be held responsible for any financial damages to their neighbors," May said.
And there could be a citation on top of it. And of course the potential for fire increases in the afternoon.
"Your temperature is going up, your humidity is dropping, and then you have your dry conditions for your fires," May warned.
He says have a fire extinguisher or hose close by if you're going to grill outdoors. And all eight Longview fire stations fly a burn flag as a reminder.
"If you see that red flag flying, then you know that we're under a burn ban," May added.
So if you grill don't leave it, and you might want to think about putting a lid on all other open flames for now.
Longview Fire feels it's not yet to the point that they ask the public to stop grilling like back in 2011.
Depending on the severity of the violation, being caught burning in the city limits of Longview could bring a fine of up to $2,000.