Harris County Commissioners Court approved a countywide burn ban Tuesday, prohibiting residents from setting outdoor fires for the next 90 days, or until the Texas Forest Service determines local drought conditions no longer exist.

The burn ban was approved unanimously without comment as part of the court’s consent agenda.

The ban prohibits outdoor burning except in an enclosure that contains all sparks and flames to prevent controlled fires from expanding, according to a statement from the county judge’s office. 

The following burning activities still are allowed during the ban:

  • approved ceremonial fires; 
  • non-commercial cooking, such as backyard cookouts and barbecues; 
  • welding and other “hot work” performed in accordance with county fire code requirements. 

The Texas A&M Forest Service measures drought conditions based on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) scale. Texas counties can implement a burn ban if their drought index is above 575. As of Tuesday, Harris County’s average KBDI was 681. 

KBDI conditions between 600 and 800 have the potential to lead to intense, prolonged wildfires, according to the statement.

Harris County became the 174th county in Texas to institute a burn ban, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service’s burn bans map.

The sale or use of fireworks is not affected by the burn ban, but a spokesperson for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office recommended not setting off fireworks and exercising caution while drought conditions persist.

Fort Bend County’s Commissioner’s Court also approved a burn ban for all unincorporated areas in the county for the next 90 days. There are no exceptions to this ban.

As of August 8, the county’s drought index was 651. County Judge KP George can end the ban if he and the county’s fire marshal determine that hazardous conditions no longer exist.

Staff writer Briah Lumpkins contributed to this report

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Tim Carlin is the Houston Landing's civic engagement reporter. An Ohio native, Tim comes to Houston after spending a year in Greenville, South Carolina, covering Greenville County government for The Greenville...