But since the preparation of the meeting’s agenda, thunderstorms have dumped at least three to five inches of rain on some parts of the county — and no part of the county escaped the deluge completely.
So Bee County leaders voted Monday to lift the ban on outdoor burning.
The county has been under a burn ban since July 19. The 90-day ban was set to expire on Sept. 19.
Bee County Fire Marshal Ken Orrell and Bee County Emergency Management Coordinator David Morgan recommended the county lift the burn ban on Monday to give rural residents an opportunity to burn debris while the ground was still wet and while the chance of wildfires was low.
However, Morgan warned county leaders that weather forecasters predict dry weather to return in the not-too-distant future.
“Looking at the 14-day forecast on the Keetch-Byrum (Drought Index), we might be back in the high-500s or low-600s. So this gives people an extra week to burn. Hopefully it won’t dry out again and we have to impose another (burn) ban.”
The Keetch-Byrum Drought Index measures moisture, wind, temperatures and other factors to determine the possibility of wildfires in a certain region. The index has a range from 0-200, which means very little chance of wildfires, to 600-700, or an exceptional chance of wildfires.
The Texas Forestry Service, which monitors the Keetch-Byrum Index, ranked Bee County among a small group of counties this summer that were in an exceptional drought.
County leaders have imposed a succession of burn bans since February in hopes of preventing wildfires.
Under the bans, burning outdoors was prohibited. However, homeowners were allowed to burn household trash outdoors in a barrel covered with a screen from 7 to 11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
“While we were in the burn ban, the citizens of this county paid attention to us and we didn’t have that many burns,” Orrell said. “What we had were very few burns and our fire departments were lucky because it was very dry.”
Despite the lifting of the burn ban, Orrell asks Bee County residents to please notify his office and the sheriff’s office if they plan to burn debris outdoors.
In the past, local volunteer fire departments wasted time and money responding to reports of wildfires only to find out that they were controlled burns and the property owner had failed to notify authorities in advance.