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East Texas starts summer with three county-wide burn bans

Officials say this is only the beginning of the hot and dry summer ahead.

CHAPEL HILL, Texas — Upshur, Trinity and Henderson counties rang in the first day of Summer with a burn ban. 

As officials say this is likely the first of many this season, East Texans are raising concerns about their neighbors starting dangerous fires.

Chapel Hill Fire Department responded to vast land behind Wise Elementary School being scorched.  

“Somebody was burning some stuff, and got out of hand. And it started spreading," Dale Peterson, Chapel Hill Fire Department Chief said.

It’s unclear if that fire was left unattended- but unattended fires are one of the most frequent violations in Smith County.

If a person sets a legal fire recklessly by either leaving it unattended or burning in bad weather conditions, that person could be charged with state jail felony arson.

“When the wind picks up, it's going to blow that stuff a lot faster. And once it gets started, as dry as it is right now, it's going to take off," Petersons said. 

Smith County responded to three grass fires on Tuesday alone and may not be too far away from a burn ban as well.  

“If we don't get any rain within the next two or three weeks, you're gonna be looking at a burn ban come on pretty quick probably," Peterson cautioned. 

He says by law, you’re only allowed to burn wood. You cannot burn your trash, tires, or your furniture.

For a full guide to burning laws and regulation courtesy of Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, click here.

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