Fire Marshals Say They Have Run Out Of Patience - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/31/05-Smith County

Fire Marshals Say They Have Run Out Of Patience

East Texas firefighters say it's been an exhausting week. In Smith County alone, more than 800 acres have burned. On Tuesday, Smith County went under a burn ban, but still people are violating it. Around 11:45 a.m., on County Road 1121 in Smith County, a man decided to burn his trash. It got out of control and scorched more than 30 acres. Smith County Fire Marshals have run out of patience.

"We keep issuing warnings and warnings and warnings and people are not heading the warning, so I started yesterday writing citations," said Smith County Assistant Fire Marshal Marilynn Wilson. Wilson was out all day writing tickets for illegal burning. She says volunteer fire departments are getting tired and want East Texans to stop burning outdoors.

"All I can tell you is if you burn and you get caught, your going to have to pay because we're through issuing warnings," said Wilson. "We would like to make the people aware, but here again we've been warning you for five days. How can you not know there is a burn ban." Because one man decided to burn his trash in a barrel, Manuel Rivera and his family almost lost their home.

"I want to thank everybody," said Rivera. "I mean if you look around there's a lot of people out here that were grabbing shovels or whatever they could get a hold of to put the fire out and I'm so grateful for that." The fire spread into the woods, burning down a shed where animals lived. Beyond the woods, Milton Dorsey sprayed down his neighbors yard with water.

"Considering how dry it is out, whoever did this, they need to get in trouble," said Dorsey. "This ain't right." Dorsey got his wish because the man who decided to burn got a ticket.

"In this particular case he was cited for reckless distruction of property because it crossed over three different pieces of property, as well as violation of the outdoor burning law, which is a minimum of $500, up to $1000," said Wilson. Wilson says, thankfully no one was hurt.

Wilson wants to remind those that celebrate their new years with a bang that several East Texas counties have banned the use of fireworks. Fourteen counties are under some type of fireworks ban because of the windy weather and extreme drought conditions. Those that ban the use of all fireworks are Smith, Van Zandt, Henderson, Franklin, Wood, Anderson, Cherokee, Morris, Camp and Cass counties. In yellow, are counties that have banned the use of solely aerial fireworks. That's Rusk, Delta, Rains and Kaufman counties. Rusk County says the use of all fireworks will be banned starting January 3rd. If your caught using fireworks in one of the counties that does not allow it, you could be fined up to $500.

Molly Reuter, reporting.

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