Rain Does Not Wash Away Burn Bans - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/22/06-Smith County

Rain Does Not Wash Away Burn Bans

East Texas saw substantial rain today. But in spite of the showers, burn bans remain intact. Fire marshals were out enforcing them, even during today's downpour.

Just hours after the rain started coming down, the phone calls started pouring in. "We've had several phone calls asking if they can burn, and some people don't care what the fine is. They're just going to go ahead, and burn anyway," said Smith CountyAssistant Fire Marshal Connie McCoy.

After weeks of obeying the burn bans, one man's burn pile, was piling up. When he saw the rain this morning, he thought it would be a good time to get rid of it.

"This gentleman here, that I just issued a citation to, he was very courteous. He just said he thought, because of all the rain today, that the ban would have been lifted, and that it would be okay to burn. But he was very courteous, took his citation, and said thank you," McCoy said.

The Fire Marshal's office says today's rain may help out, but they warn, with as dry as it's been, it could get dangerous again very quickly. "If we have high winds tomorrow after this rain, and it starts drying off real quick, then we can have fires spread just as easily tomorrow as we have in the past, " McCoy said.

McCoy also says Smith County officials may reevaluate the fire danger tomorrow, but she says there are no promises about lifting the ban. "We'll look at all angles tomorrow, and look at long range forecasts to see if we're going to get any more rain, before they make a decision on that."

Until they make an official decision, they're sending out a warning. "The burn ban's still in effect. You burn. You get a citation," McCoy said. That could cost you as much as $500.

Lindsay Wilcox, reporting. lwilcox@kltv.com

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