Montgomery County has issued a “Declaration of Local Disaster”, effective immediately, in response to the growing threat of wildfire throughout the County.
Montgomery County is home to one of the largest populations of Texans living in an Urban/Wildland Interface zone, with nearly 500,000 residents living in unincorporated portions of the County. An Urban/Wildland Interface zone is an area where communities lie directly adjacent to forests or grasslands. The large numbers of residents living in close proximity to wildlands and forest areas places Montgomery County at a higher risk for destructive wildfires
In the past few days, the average Keetch-Byram Drought Index for Montgomery County has soared from just 539 last Friday to 601 today. While this is an average reading,some areas are experiencing much worse drought conditions, with parts of south and west Montgomery County at 693 on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index. Recent high temperatures, followed by several days of low humidity, have created near perfect conditions for wildfires and the number of fires has steadily increased over the past few days. In the past 60 hours, Montgomery County Firefighters have responded to over 3 dozen wildfires, with some causing damage to outbuildings and other small structures.
These fires included:
o 8 wildfires where the 911 caller reported that fireworks were involved
o 9 wildfires started from outdoor burning of brush or leaves
o 6 illegal burns (trash fires)
o 15 Grass/Woods fires where the cause has not been determined at this time.
In response to these fires and the imminent threat of a disastrous wildfire, County Judge Alan B. Sadler has issued a Local Disaster Declaration restricting the use of two types of fireworks, “skyrockets with sticks” and “missiles with fins”. These two types of fireworks can fly outside of the control of the user and land indiscriminately. All other consumer fireworks will remain legal for use, however the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office recommends caution should you choose to set off consumer fireworks.
In addition to the fireworks restrictions, a burn ban has been issued for all of Montgomery County. Under the outdoor burn ban, all burning is prohibited in unincorporated Montgomery County until further notice. Violation of the Outdoor Burn Ban is a class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
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