Robert Bridge, emergency management coordinator, said Monday that he requested the county judge lift the ban before winter season arrives.
“I talked to a majority of the fire chiefs, and they are all in agreement,” Bridge said. “We need to allow the farmers and ranchers time to burn the excess brush before the winter begins.”
The drought index isn’t at a completely safe level yet.
“The Keetch-Byram Drought Index is at a moderate level,” Bridge said.
About a month ago, county officials implemented the ban, because the drought index had reached a level of 600 and higher.
The index lists this county as still in the 500-600 range with some areas being higher on the index and others lower. The higher the number, the greater the risk of fire.
“It is moderate at this point, which is why we are tying to lift the burn ban now,” Bridge said. “We believe this was a window of opportunity where the index is not so high where there is danger.”
Bridge said that he expects to allow burning for the next four to six weeks.
“We believe this will allow everyone ample opportunity to take care of the excess piles of brush,” he said.
A rancher himself, Bridge said that he understands the need to burn this brush — much of it from land clearing or fence line cleaning.
The brush is not only a fire danger but also a home for skunks and other pests.
“Plus, it is a nesting areas for rattlesnakes and different kinds of varmints,” Bridge said. “It would be better if we could burn it and get it out of the way.”
Bridge asks people to use caution and to check wind conditions before lighting brush piles and to not leave burning piles unattended.
“We are still asking the individuals to contact the sheriffs office and let them know that they are going to burn,” he said.
Those wanting to burn should call the sheriff’s office at 361-362-3221.