A burn ban was issued Monday by Liberty County Judge Jay Knight, prohibiting all outdoor burning except when it is used for firefighter training or controlled burns for public utility, natural gas pipeline and mining operations, and planting and harvesting of agricultural crops.
The burn ban came at a moment when north Liberty County firefighters were responding to four different blazes from Plum Grove, Cleveland and Tarkington, and after many of the firefighters had battled a 200-plus acre fire the day before in Plum Grove.
Assistant Fire Marshal Nat Holcomb said that people underestimate the current fire conditions.
“We have a lot of dead grass, brown pine needles and other fuel for a fire,” he said.
Sunday’s windy weather contributed to the brush fire quickly getting out of control, he added.
“The wind was blowing pretty hard out of the north. That fire that happened on Sunday, had it happened last week, wouldn’t have done anything because the wind wasn’t as strong then, but yesterday, it blew the fire a mile through the woods,” Holcomb said.
A problem with unattended fires continue in the subdivisions south of Plum Grove, said Plum Grove Fire Chief Chris Loftin.
The constant calls for fires puts a strain on the all-volunteer fire departments like Plum Grove. Loftin was the first person on the scene of a fire on CR 5001 on Monday and had to battle the fire on his own for several minutes before other crews arrived. Loftin kept the fire from spreading to a trailer home on the property.
Earlier in the day, firefighters from Cleveland and a half-dozen agencies from Liberty and Montgomery counties were called to a large grass and woods fire off of Pin Oak Road that was threatening several homes. The team effort from the fire departments kept that fire under control. Texas Forest Service assisted by creating fire breaks.
Anyone in violation of the burn ban can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine up to $500. The burn ban will continue until it is lifted by the county judge’s office.