Smith County Judge Joel Baker has issued a burn ban for Smith County, effective immediately, due to extremely dry conditions. The burn ban is effective for seven days, and may be renewed upon review of conditions next Tuesday. More after the jump.

Judge Baker said:

We have watch conditions closely during this period of record heat and high winds, and have determined that a burn ban is needed. Many factors go into the decision-making process regarding the issuance of a burn ban. I always consult with the County Fire Marshall in evaluating the issuance of such an order


Factors in determining the need for a burn ban include:


1. the Keetch-Byram Drought Index


2. the current temperature, humidity, and wind speed


3. the forecasted weather


We also consider the type and volume of calls for emergency service due to fires

The current drought index is 694 and the county has historically issued burn bans when it is at or near 700. Unusually high temperatures, lack of rainfall and low moisture levels have contributed to need for a ban to be issued.

Pursuant to Texas Penal Code §28.04, a person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the property owner, he/she recklessly damages or destroys property of the owner. Such a violation is a class-C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.