County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell told the court that he had driven around the county and was starting to see green in bar ditches and pastures.
“I’m OK with lifting it,” he said.
“Locals who know what they’re doing aren’t a problem.”
Harwell said for days when winds are too high or there are red flag warnings from the National Weather Service, he will educate those with active burn piles and explain the rules.
Technically, outdoor burning in Texas is prohibited, however, there are exceptions.
“The Outdoor Burning Rule first prohibits outdoor burning anywhere in Texas, and then allows exceptions for specific situations in which burning is necessary or does not pose a threat to the environment,” the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality notes.
Allowed outdoor burning includes:
• Outdoor burning is authorized for fires used solely for recreational or ceremonial purposes or in the noncommercial preparation of food or used exclusively for the purpose of supplying warmth during cold weather.
• Domestic waste burning at a property designed for and used exclusively as a private residence, housing not more than three families, when collection of domestic waste is not provided or authorized by the local governmental and when the waste is generated only from that property.
In rural Palo Pinto County, there is no domestic waste provided or authorized by the county government. There are, however, waste services available.
Wastes normally resulting from the function of life within a residence that can be burned include such things as kitchen garbage, untreated lumber, cardboard boxes, packaging (including plastics and rubber), clothing, grass, leaves and branch trimmings.
Examples of wastes that cannot be burned include such things as tires, non-wood construction debris, furniture, carpet, electrical wire and appliances.
• On-site burning of trees, brush, grass, leaves, branch trimmings or other plant growth, by the owner of the property or any other person authorized by the owner, and when the material is generated only from that property. Such burning is subject to local ordinances that prohibit burning inside the corporate limits of a city or town.
• Outdoor burning shall be authorized for training fire-fighting personnel when requested in writing and when authorized either verbally or in writing.
• Outdoor burning is authorized for prescribed burning for forest, range and wildland/wildlife management purposes.
Burning must be outside the corporate limits of a city or town except where the town has enacted ordinances which permit burning.
Burning will be conducted only when wind direction and other weather conditions are such that smoke and other pollutants will not cause adverse effects to any public road, landing strip or off-site structure containing sensitive receptors, such as people with allergies or health issues adversely affected by smoke.
If at any time the burning causes smoke to blow onto or across a road or highway, it is the responsibility of the person initiating the burn to post flaggers on affected roads.
Burning must be conducted downwind of or at least 300 feet from any structure containing those sensitive to smoke located on adjacent properties unless prior written approval is obtained from the adjacent occupant.
Burning will be conducted no earlier than one hour after sunrise and completed on the same day not later than one hour before sunset and will be attended by a responsible party at all times during the active burn phase.
In cases where residual fires or smoldering objects continue to emit smoke after that time, those areas will be extinguished if the smoke has the potential to create a nuisance or traffic hazard. In no case will the extent of the burn area be allowed to increase after this time.
Burning will not be started when surface wind speed is predicted to be less than 6 mph or greater than 23 mph during the burn period.
Burning will not be conducted during periods of actual or predicted persistent low level atmospheric temperature inversions.
Electrical insulation, treated lumber, plastics, non-wood construction/demolition materials, heavy oils, asphaltic materials, potentially explosive materials, chemical wastes and items containing natural or synthetic rubber must not be burned. According to TCEQ, business waste cannot be burned.