Smith County seal

Smith County officials issued a burn ban Tuesday after weeks of monitoring high temperatures and dry conditions.

The Smith County Commissioners Court approved the 90-day burn ban at the recommendation of Fire Marshal Jay Brooks.

Brooks said there had been 36 grass fires in Smith County over the past week, and the county’s drought index, on a scale of 0 to 800, with higher meaning drier, was 714.

The Commissioners Court had been receiving regular updates from Brooks over the past several weeks related to whether they should issue a burn ban.

Brooks said he had been keeping an eye on conditions, and at one point hoped that rain throughout the county would help stave off the need for a burn ban.

Smith County becomes one of the last in East Texas to issue a burn ban. They were already in effect in Henderson, Anderson, Cherokee, Rusk, Gregg, Upshur, Morris, Cass, Marion and Harrison counties, according to a report by Texas A&M Forest Service.

“I think issuing a burn ban is the way we need to go for safety purposes,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said. He said the county held out as long as it could.

Commissioner Jeff Warr also spoke of the court’s reluctance to issue the ban.

“We are very cautious about the business impact of issuing a burn ban,” Commissioner Jeff Warr said. “We are careful about watching the conditions.”

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