Recent fires along with hot and dry weather conditions spurred Somervell County commissioners to issue a countywide burn ban Monday.

Somervell County Judge Walter Maynard declared a state of disaster on June 23, citing the threat of wildfires. The declaration banned outdoor burning for seven days.

“At the request of the fire department I put it [burn ban] out,” Maynard said at Monday’s meeting. “I think there’s a lot of concern over the burn ban.”

Over the last two weeks, crews responded to 14 fires, ranging from grassfires to vehicle and structure fires.

One tool that helped prevent the onset of more fires was Code Red, a high volume emergency notification system used for mass notification.

“It worked pretty well,” Maynard said. “This was the first real time we used it and I think it was successful.”

Residents or businesses can sign-up for e-mail or telephone notifications. If the system is activated, messages will be sent detailing the emergency. A link to the system’s application has been posted on the county’s Web site,

Although Maynard was pleased with the performance of the system, he said next time they would work on the wording.

The new burn ban will be in effect for 90 days, but one thing it did not do was ban the use or sale of aerial fireworks.

Maynard said the court had until June 15 to issue that ban, but could still prohibit the use of aerial fireworks for up to 60 hours under another disaster declaration. However, in a follow-up interview, Maynard said he is not anticipating such a restriction.

County Attorney Ron Hankins urged residents to use common sense given the weather conditions. Although there is not a legal prohibition, someone could still be held liable for damages if their firecracker causes damage or starts a fire.

Commissioners also pointed out that it is still unlawful to use, possess or sale fireworks within city limits.