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Burn ban returns to county

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2019 12:00 pm

The rains have disappeared in Bandera County and blistering temperatures have returned, drying out grasses and brushy undergrowth to such a degree that Bandera County commissioners voted last week to reimpose a burn ban for 90 days.

Commissioners voted unanimously at their Thursday, Aug. 8 meeting, to impose an order prohibiting outdoor burning for 90 days after hearing Fire Marshal John Stith say eight fires had been reported in the county in less than a month and that the county’s score in a widely followed drought index was high enough to warrant a ban.

The county’s average value in that study – the Keetch-Byram Drought Index – reached 581 earlier this month, which probably placed Bandera County among the driest 10 percent of the counties in Texas, said Stith.

Particularly troublesome were the large number of dried out cedar trees in the county, which can cause fires to spread quickly once they are ignited.

“This is the time of the year we have to consider a burn ban,” Bandera County Judge Richard Evans told commissioners last week.

Stith said Bandera joins the list of area counties that already have imposed a ban on outdoor burning.

With the ban in place, trash and brush piles cannot be burned unless they are placed in a container with a mesh covering to reduce the chance that sparks can trigger another fire.

Stith said anyone with questions about the ban and the containers needed to comply with the ban are urged to call his office at 830-460-8183 for guidance.

The order imposing the ban is only effective for 90 days and can be lifted if rain starts falling and makes the area less susceptible to rapidly spreading grass fires.

In recent years, the county’s decision to impose a burn ban has been short lived because rains did return within days of the bans being imposed.

Twice last year, once on June 26 and again on Aug. 31, bans were approved for the county only to be lifted in less than two weeks when portions of the county flooded.

The Aug. 31 ban was the last time hot, dry weather led to a burn ban in Bandera County, though the fire marshal imposed bans three times in December because winds were blowing so hard that flash fires became a threat.

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