Monday, Palo Pinto County commissioners tightened the burn ban because of the deepening drought and continued shortage of water.
The court imposed tougher restrictions on outdoor welding and banned the use of combustible materials in an outdoor environment. The new ban does not apply to the use of barbecue type equipment used for cooking only.
The order specifies combustible material as including, but not limited to “discarding of cigarettes or other flammable materials, materials used in activities such as welding and any other activity that could result in a fire.”
The ban does not apply to outdoor burning activities related to public health and safety that are authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for firefighter training; public utility: natural gas pipeline, or mining operations; or planting or harvesting of agricultural crops.
 Outdoor welding can be accomplished under the following guidelines:
• All areas where welding, cutting or grinding operations are being performed will be free of vegetation for at least 25 feet in all directions;
• Surfaces around welding areas will be wetted down;
• Wind speeds must be no more than 20 miles per hour while performing welding, cutting or grinding operations outside of barriers or enclosures;
• A dedicated fire watch person will attend each welder, cutter, grinder and any activity that causes a spark;
• A minimum of one water pressure fire extinguisher per fire watch person is required;
• Each site will have cellular telephone communications for emergency response;
• All welding, cutting and grinding operations may be performed in a total welding enclosure, or “welding box” that is sufficiently high to control sparks and includes a fire retardant cover over the top.

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Wind speeds must not exceed 30 miles per hour while utilizing an enclosure;
• Where welding (above ground and sub-surface) is required in an area where there is a potential for a hazardous atmosphere, barriers will be substituted for total enclosures (e.g. “wind walls”) to prevent sparks from coming in contact with any combustible material;
• The barriers will be installed to allow ventilation of the work area and ingress and egress to the work area for personnel safety;
• Sub-surface, or “bell hole,” welding and grinding operations within approved excavations are allowed if all other mitigation efforts are included.
In addition, the ban prohibits the burning of brush/tree piles when clearing land and the use of aerial luminaries, known as “Sky Lanterns, Kong Ming Lanterns or Chinese Lanterns.”
“Upon notification of suspected outdoor burning, the fire department assigned to the location of the fire shall respond to the scene and take immediate measures to contain and/or extinguish the fire,” the ban reads. “As soon as possible, a duly-commissioned peace officer shall be sent to investigate the nature of the fire.”
A violation is a Class C misdemeanor.