Dry grass, rain spark debate over Williamson County burn ban at Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday

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Despite discussion, Williamson County commissioners decided to not vote on declaring a burn ban for unincorporated areas of the county Tuesday morning.

Dry grasses, rainy weather and recent fires in the county all made for a confusing situation, County Judge Dan Gattis said, one in which the court was not sure of the right course of action to prevent fires while also allowing residents in unincorporated Williamson County to burn their household yard waste or other materials.

“I have to admit, usually I have my mind made up completely on what I want to do with burn bans,” Gattis said. “This one’s got me really confused. We’re getting rain, but we ain’t getting a lot of rain.”

Gattis just ended a burn ban last week, but a fire in the northwest portion of Williamson County led city officials to encourage the court to ban burns again. According to Emergency Management Coordinator Jarred Thomas, the fire burned 125 acres and threatened eight homes. The origin of the flames is still unknown, but as the fire started at a roadway, he guessed it may have been sparked from a discarded cigarette.

“Right now, with the conditions being the way they are, fires are going to be inevitable,” Thomas said.

However, commissioners expressed concern about banning controlled burns for country residents who are safe. The burn ban would not prevent drivers from throwing lit cigarettes out their car window, Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said.

The court ultimately did not vote on whether to enact a burn ban but indicated the item would most likely be back on the agenda during a Commissioners Court meeting in the near future.

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