Burn ban issued for Smith County after multiple grass fires

Burn ban issued for Smith County after multiple grass fires

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - As we head into the weekend, the Smith County Fire Marshal's Office is asking the public to be extremely careful in these dry conditions.

A 90-day burn ban was ordered for Smith County today in hopes of preventing future 'out of control' fires.

In the last 24-hours, Smith County has seen 12 grass fires.

"All of these fires like this that could've blown into the woods could've started another woods fire," Smith County Fire Marshal Connie Wasson said. 

East Texas fire crews are on high alert after responding to one fire call after another for the past two days.

"When our humidities get extremely low like they did yesterday, and you've got any kind of wind, five, 10, 15 mph winds that's gonna push that fire, then this is what happens behind me," Wasson said.

On Thursday, Highway 64 East was shut down as seven fire departments worked to put out a 20-acre grass fire.

"It was caused from a gentleman that was mowing and raking and his rake actually hit a rock and sparked the fires," Wasson said.  

On Wednesday, four departments worked to put out a 17-acre fire in Arp. After those fires, Jackson Heights Volunteer Fire Department wrote that they have been seeing "fire behavior we haven't seen in several years."

"Just erratic fire behavior, where you start seeing the fire create its own winds, really extreme flame lengths, anywhere between 10 and 12 feet," Smith County ESD 2 Battalion Chief Kelcey Trotty said. "Guys were saying yesterday they saw upwards of 20 feet."

Firefighters are remembering the destructive 2011 fire season.

"We don't want a 2011 to occur again; we had multiple acres burn, we lost homes," Wasson said. "We don't want that to happen, and the conditions are right as to what we had in 2011 that could actually happen now."

Fire Marshal Wasson says anything could spark a large fire right now, so she is asking the public to be extremely careful.

"There is no burning at all, you cannot do any outdoor burning at all," Wasson said. "You can do cooking, grilling as long as you have an enclosed grill outside, no open flames whatsoever."

Burning during a burn ban is a Class C misdemeanor with fines up to $500.

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