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Outdoor Burning Information

Controlled burns are a necessity in Matagorda County, but there are regulations and potential liability that come with outdoor burning. Below are some of the general rules to follow but TCEQ has put out a more comprehensive guide that you can find here. Below you will also find a list of fire weather and controlled burning resources you can use to help plan your burn. Please also make sure to report all controlled burns to the Matagorda County Sheriff’s Office at (979) 245-5526 before you start burning.

General Requirements for Outdoor Burning

If a proposed outdoor burn meets the conditions for an exception to the general prohibition of outdoor burn­ing, additional requirements designed to protect public health, safety, and the environment may apply. They are designed to reduce the likelihood that the burn­ing will create a nuisance, cause a hazard, or harm the environment. The specific requirements applicable to each type of allowable outdoor burn are identified in the exceptions (see Appendix C). The party responsible for the burn remains liable for damages, injuries, or other consequences that may result from burning, even when it is carried out in compliance with these regulations.

Notify the Texas A&M Forest Service before carrying out any prescribed or controlled burns that are intended for forest management.

Burn only outside the corporate limits of a city or town, unless the incorporated city or town has an ordinance, consistent with the Texas Clean Air Act, Subchapter E, that permits burning.

Commence or continue burning only when the wind direction and other weather conditions are such that the smoke and other pollutants will not present a hazard to any public road, landing strip, or navigable water (e.g., lake, river, stream, or bay) or have an adverse effect on any off-site structure containing “sensitive receptors” (e.g., a residence, business, farm building, or greenhouse; see box, page 8). Up to date information regarding weather conditions can be obtained online through a number of websites. This information should be referenced before conducting outdoor burning in order to determine the direction and speed of the wind, whether winds are expected to shift, whether your area is under a temperature inversion, and whether high ozone levels are forecast. Ozone level information is available on the TCEQ’s Texas Air Quality Forecast page

Post someone to flag traffic if at any time the burning causes or may tend to cause smoke to blow onto or across a road or highway.

Keep fires downwind of, or at least 300 feet away from, any neighboring structure that contains sensitive recep­tors. This requirement may be waived only with the prior written approval of whoever owns or rents the adjacent property and either resides or conducts business there.

Begin burning no earlier than one hour after sunrise. Cease burning the same day no later than one hour before sunset, and make sure that a responsible party is present while the burn is active and the fire is progress­ing. At the end of the burn, extinguish isolated residual fires or smoldering objects if the smoke they produce can be a nuisance or a traffic hazard. Do not start burn­ing unless weather conditions are such that the smoke will dissipate (winds of at least 6 miles per hour; no temperature inversions) while still allowing the fire to be contained and controlled (winds no faster than 23 miles per hour).

Do not burn any electrical insulation, treated lumber, plastics, non-wooden construction or demolition mate­rials, heavy oils, asphaltic materials, potentially explosive materials, chemical wastes, or items that contain natural or synthetic rubber.

Resources:

Living with Texas Fire – How to videos on Rx burning.

Fire Weather by The National Weather Service

NOAA Fire Weather Outlook

VSmoke – Tool for estimating smoke impacts of controlled burns