Officials discuss burn ban in Houston parks

September 7, 2011 5:17:24 PM PDT
The dry conditions and fires across the state have officials here in Houston keeping close watch and they're looking at possible emergency plans just in case.

The sight of dead and dying trees around the beloved Memorial Park jogging trail worries jogger Rob Blain.

"We should not do anything outside that could lead to a fire," Blain said.

No one was using the barbecue grills at the city parks Wednesday, but the key is that people still can. There is no current burn ban inside the city limits though Mayor Annise Parker is considering that option.

"We have not come to a decision yet, but it's something that may happen," said Mayor Parker.

On Wednesday morning, the Houston Police Department took the city's parks director Joe Turner on an aerial tour. The goal was to assess the amount of dead trees in the city and the fire danger.

"From my perspective, I definitely want a burn ban in the parks," Turner said.

He says he will encourage Mayor Parker to issue a ban. He's worried that any spark could cause a major fire in the city's many parks.

The situation is tenuous in Memorial Park where at least 1,000 trees are dead.

"We have a problem in Memorial Park," said Victor Cordova, city forester.

Crews are watering some trees at various parks across the city. But until there is actual, measurable rain, the city's parks, especially Memorial Park, are tinder boxes.

"If one happened here, it would just be a disaster because this is a second home to a lot of people," said runner Ashley Weimer.

Mayor Parker said if Houstonians see trees in city esplanades and want to take a garden hose to and try to save, they are more than welcome to adopt a city tree.

So far, there is no burn ban in the city, however that very well could come in the next few days.

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