Texarkana, Texas, residents soon will be able to burn brush, pine needles and other yard waste—if they get the fire marshal's approval and a $50 annual permit.
The Texas-side City Council on Monday voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance allowing residential outdoor burning in the city for the first time since 2008. It goes into effect Jan. 2, 2019.
"Our intention is to, within certain parameters, allow residential burning, whether it's in a barrel or on bare ground, depending on the amount of property they have," said Chris Black, assistant chief and fire marshal with Texarkana, Texas, Fire Department.
The change comes in part because of the concerns of Bowie County residents whose property this year was annexed into the city limits, a city spokesperson said. Many complained that being part of the city would prevent them from burning yard waste as they were accustomed to.
Those who apply for a permit may not get one, and permits issued may spell out different rules for each specific situation.
"We'll go out and do a site visit, and then we may set certain restrictions," Black said. "It could be different sanctions for different people depending on where they live and how close they live to other people. Some people may not be able to burn at all. It will be a case by case basis."
TTFD will be paying particular attention to a property's proximity to neighboring land and buildings, Black said. What is overhead, including power lines, will also be a consideration.
Rules in place for commercial outdoor burning to clear land will apply to residential burning, as well. They include burning no less than 300 feet away from any residential, commercial or industrial area except those on the property where the burning is taking place.
Whoever receives the permit will be responsible for being "in charge of the fire," having equipment available to extinguish it, and being responsible and liable for any damages it may cause. If TTFD receives any complaints about the permitted burning, the fire must be put out.
Outdoor burning may only take place between one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset, and only when the wind speed is between 6 mph and 23 mph.
Permit holders may only burn trees, brush and other plant materials. Burning electrical insulation, plastic, heavy oil, asphaltic material, chemical waste, construction or demolition material, or items that contain rubber, including old tires, is prohibited.
Violating Texas-side outdoor burning rules is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000.
Texarkana, Ark., does not allow residential outdoor burning but has permitting rules in place for commercial burning.
For more information, call the TTFD administrative offices at 903-798-3994.