City aims to get regulated brush burns back in play

During the Gladewater City Council’s regular meeting Nov. 16, interim City Manager Charlie Smith provided a brief update on the current moratorium on burn permits within the city limits.
In mid-October, officials finally lifted their weather-related burn ban after conditions finally returned to a safe state. Two weeks later, Gladewater Fire Chief Mike Simmons put a pause on all permits for controlled burns after a series of illegal fires – with potential state jail charges.
Simmons has since been overhauling the City of Gladewater’s outdoor burning rules to best-align with state guidelines. The short version: outside of a specific set of cooking, ceremonial or recreational fires, the only burns that can be permitted (for a fee) will be for green debris from an individual’s home. Those rules are in limbo until considered by Gladewater council members.
According to Smith, Simmons has also put time into training with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency to get the latest guidance on what cities can allow in terms of burning while still complying with state and federal regulations.
“There’s a lot of laws that have come into play to discourage that,” Smith confirmed. “We want to try to put in some type of program so that we can move forward and that everybody will be satisfied with, and we can get rid of a lot of debris.”
The city’s new wood chipper will be a big part of that, too, Smith added – see separate story in the Dec. 7 issue.
A key reason for the moratorium was the amount of garbage and specific trash like shingles and tires that were being illegally-burned. Simmons has four active cases that will be state jail felonies without compliance from the suspects.
“We want to discourage that,” Smith said, “but we do want to be able to get rid of the brush and debris that’s throughout the city, too.”

– By James Draper

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