WAXAHACHIE

Rising temperatures prompted the Ellis County Commissioners Court to enact a burn ban at its Tuesday morning meeting. The burn ban will be in effect for the next 90 days.

Tim Birdwell, Ellis County Fire Marshal, recommended for the commissioners to enact the burn ban due to the dangerously dry conditions.

“Things have dramatically changed. We are currently in drought conditions right now,” Birdwell said. “We have had a number of grass fires. The Friday before last we had a 170-acre grass fire. This past Saturday we had a 50-acre grass fire off of Westmoreland Road that burned down a couple of barns. It is really dry.”

Birdwell stated the Keetch-Byram Drought Index has listed the county’s conditions at 608.

The index ranges from zero to 800. A reading of zero represents no moisture depletion, and 800 represents entirely dry conditions.

The burn ban does not ban the sale or prevent the use of fireworks. Under state statute 352.051 the commissioner’s court would've had to enact a fireworks ban to prohibit the sale before June 15.

Birdwell stated, while residents can still purchase and use fireworks during July 4 celebrations, he stresses they need to exercise caution and be safe when doing so.

“If people are popping fireworks and they do any type of damage to other people’s property arson charges could be brought against them civil or criminal,” Birdwell said. “People need to be very safe in where they pop them and how they pop them. The best thing that they could do is to go to a professional fireworks show or display in one of the cities.”

Birdwell stated people can trash in a burn barrel with a screen. Welders can weld outside, but they have to have firefighting tools like an extinguisher readily available and someone on fire watch duty.

The full list of regulations and rules to follow are on the Ellis County Fire Marshal’s webpage at www.co.ellis.tx.us/92/Fire-Marshal.

For questions about the burn ban, the staff at the Fire Marshal’s Office can be reached at 972-825-5555. The office is located in the Ellis County Courts and Administration Building at 109 S. Jackson Street in downtown Waxahachie.