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The summer of 2022 is turning out to be a scorcher and the burnt ground around East Texas is proof. Oppressive heat and abundant sunshine have settled in across Texas and Oklahoma and there doesn't seem to be any real big relief anytime soon from these hot and dry conditions we're experiencing.

The heat continues to pull out whatever moisture remains in the ground and dries out any vegetation that isn't being watered by hand or a sprinkler system. Because of the extremely dry conditions that exist throughout all of East Texas, every county is under a burn ban of some kind, except for Franklin County. It is currently illegal to do any kind of outdoor burning in East Texas, but fires are somehow still breaking out.

Yesterday (Tuesday, July 19th), the area was under a red flag warning because conditions were favorable for any fire that broke out to have the possibility of erupting and getting out of control quickly. Firefighters in Van Zandt County experienced that when a fire broke out along FM 47 and Van Zandt County Road 2120 where approximately 1000 acres were ablaze (KLTV). The cause of this fire hasn't been determined, but officials believe it could have been started by a cigarette that was flicked out of a window or by a spark from a trailer chain.

Firefighters in Henderson County worked on putting out a few fires yesterday afternoon in the county. Separate fires burned a 30-acre tract of land while another consumed 156 acres. Another large 1,000+ acre fire, the Nelson Creek Fire in Walker County, is threatening to jump the Trinity River and make its way into Trinity and Houston counties.

A look at the current burn ban map of East Texas. (As of July 20, 2022)

Texas A&M Forestry Service
Texas A&M Forestry Service

In Rusk County, officials there responded to three different fires that were started from illegal burning, which lead them to become out-of-control wildfires.  One of the fires ended up destroying five trailers. (KETK)

Earlier in the month, a 17-acre fire was accidentally set by juveniles that found a lighter and lit a fire by the fort they created in the woods. They thought they put the fire out, but it wasn't and it got out of control and ended up burning up part of the baseball practice field. (KLTV)

Until we get some much-needed rain and the burn bans are in place and we are in a drought situation, it is illegal to do any kind of outdoor burning in East Texas, except in Franklin County (at the time of this post).

If you are caught burning, you could face a Class C misdemeanor charge and face a fine of up to $500.

Never throw a cigarette out the window of the vehicle. If you have to pull off to the side of the road, remember, that your vehicle can start a wildfire too because it is hot and will catch the grass on fire below it. Use caution and common sense and don't burn.

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