Brush Fire

A fire crew from McQueeney Volunteer Fire Department tackles a portion of a large brush fire that consumed several acres and threated some homes on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018 between Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 90 near Jahns and Old Ilka Roads.

Dry, hot weather prompted authorities to impose a burn ban effective today in Guadalupe County.

During a regular meeting Tuesday of the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court, commissioners voted 5-0 to make the move following Guadalupe County Fire Marshal Patrick Pinder’s recommendation thanks, in part, to increased brush fire calls across the county in recent weeks.

“In the past three weeks, I’ve had a fire a day,” Pinder said.

He reported Tuesday that the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which the county uses to determine the amount of moisture in the ground, was at about 559. Guadalupe County uses a KBDI threshold of 500 to trigger burn ban talks, County Judge Kyle Kutscher said.

The drought index has gotten closer and closer to the trigger point for the past 10 weeks, the county judge said. Last week at the commissioners meeting, authorities noticed the KBDI hovering just below the 500 mark. Then they suggested keeping an eye on the drought index monitor and taking up the issue of a burn ban at this week’s meeting.

“It’s just so hot and dry,” Kutscher said. “I think people have noticed that the last couple weeks.”

There are approved uses of fire under the ban. The judge suggested people take precautions when dealing with fire at anytime.

He knows that burn bans are not popular with residents, many of whom have very legitimate reasons to want to start fires, Kutscher said. Caution is a must.

“It can be very dangerous if people are not extremely careful,” Kutscher said.

Legal fires during burn bans include barbecue fires contained in barbecue pits or fire rings. Anyone who starts such fires should be sure to discard coals and ashes safely by dousing them in water once finished cooking, according to information on the county’s website.

Residents are allowed to burn trash as long as it is burned in a barrel with a screen top, the website said. Anyone burning trash should be sure to stay outside with the fire and have a water source nearby to control flames.

The website also says that recreational fires, such as campfires and ones in fire pits, are allowed as long as they are kept in a fire ring to prevent their spreading. Those fires do not include brush piles.

Comal County instituted a burn ban nearly two weeks ago, Pinder said. He said nearly 75 other Texas counties had instituted burn bans as of Tuesday.

Anyone seeking a way around the ban can contact his office and apply for approval to burn, Pinder said.

Commissioner Judy Cope made the motion for the ban and Commissioner Jim Wolverton seconded it before it passed unanimously.

The ban lasts for 90 days, currently scheduled from today through Nov. 5, Pinder said. Commissioners could take a look at the measure later to see if it needs to be extended. In the event of rain, they could also take a look at rescinding the order, if conditions allow, Pinder said.

Anyone unsure about what to burn during a ban may call 830-303-8856 for assistance.

 

Dalondo Moultrie is the assistant managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at dalondo.moultrie@seguingazette.com .

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