HOWARD COUNTY, TX (KWES) - An irresponsible citizen caused panic and put first responders in unnecessary danger when he failed to comply with controlled burn regulations, fire officials said.
The unidentified Howard County man was allegedly burning trash and tires - in violation of state law - Tuesday night outside his home on FM 818 and Elbow Creek Road. Plumes of thick black smoke could be seen from more than 10 miles away, leading the fire department to dispatch 11 vehicles and 19 men.
"A whole bunch of people called us [about the smoke] and we went straight out there," said Howard County Volunteer Fire Chief Tommy Sullivan. "We responded with eight units and three command vehicles... Upon arrival, we found a person doing a controlled burn in a pit."
Digging makeshift fire pits is also illegal, he explained, due to the risk of hitting major pipelines.
Sullivan said the incident would be reported to the Texas Commission on Environment Quality for further review. It's unclear what charges, if any, the homeowner in question will face. He could not be reached for comment.
Although Howard County has no burn ban in place, the fire department must be notified ahead of any controlled burns.
"More than anything, this put my men's lives in danger for nothing," said Sullivan. "Eleven emergency vehicles respond to this fire. It's a hazard for my firefighters [and] it's a hazard for the public because we've increased [by] 11-fold the chances of an accident and [the risk of] somebody getting hurt on something that never should have happened."