FORT WORTH -- The first rainfall in weeks wasn't enough to head off a 90-day outdoor burn ban in Tarrant County as hot and unseasonably windy weather continues to dry out North Texas.
"It's going to take more than a couple of good rains to get us out of this drought," Fire Marshal Randy Renois said after Tarrant County commissioners approved the ban Tuesday.
"Conditions are not quite as bad as in 2006, but the way the 14-day outlook stands -- with hot, dry and windy days -- it could be as bad as we've ever seen. The wind is making it extreme," said Renois, noting that unincorporated areas have had 20 small grass fires in the last week.
"They haven't been big like in West Texas, but here, a 10-acre fire next to a subdivision can be really dangerous," he said.
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With that in mind, fire marshals in Tarrant, Denton, Parker and Wise counties are teaming up on a public awareness campaign to discourage people from setting off fireworks over the Fourth of July, he said.
"We are going to encourage people to go to the public shows instead," Renois said. "They put on great shows and they are free."
In Texas, 225 of 254 counties have banned outdoor burns, according to the Texas Forest Service. Under state law, each county makes its own decisions about fireworks restrictions and burn bans.
Selling and using fireworks in Tarrant County haven't been banned. On Monday, Parker County commissioners prohibited the private use of fireworks but not their sale.
In Tarrant, "We haven't restricted fireworks, but you have to own property or have permission by the landowner to set them off," Renois said. "And believe me, the people in unincorporated areas don't want people setting them off. Fireworks will be a big problem if it stays this dry."
Steve Campbell, 817-922-9281