BURNET — Although a burn ban for the unincorporated areas of Burnet County is still lifted, officials say residents must use caution because the danger for wildfires remains.
The County Commissioners Court voted Sept. 25 to keep the burn ban off.
"People need to use a lot of caution," said Herb Darling, director of county environmental services. "This is the time of the year we have these fronts come through where we go from good conditions to 30 mph winds the next day. Some of these burn piles take several days (to extinguish themselves), so this wind can stir up those embers and carry them off."’
Officials lifted the burn ban Sept. 17 after more than 6 inches of rain fell on some parts of the county.
The rainfall fed thirsty grasses and brush, normally fuel sources for wildfires when they are dry and parched.
However, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, a scale that measures a region’s susceptibility to fire based on dryness, remains high,
"The (Keetch-Byram Drought Index) has stayed up because it was so stinking dry," Darling said. "Drought conditions still exist."
The index ranges from 0-800 with 800 indicating the greatest potential for fire. Darling said Burnet County’s overall KBDI number is 548.
Since the burn ban has been lifted, Darling said there have been 26 calls to the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office for grass and brush fires. While only two were actual fires — a controlled burn that spread and a blaze from a welding operation —dispatching fire crews costs time and money.
Residents in unincorporated parts of the county burning brush piles or other controlled burns should notify the Sheriff’s Office at (512) 756-8080 to prevent unnecessary fire runs.
More rain is possible Sept. 27-29, so it’s likely the burn ban will not reactivated, officials said..