Williamson County extends outdoor burn ban as dry conditions continue

Williamson County voted April 1 to extend its burn ban. (Courtesy Pexels)
Williamson County voted April 1 to extend its burn ban. (Courtesy Pexels)

Williamson County voted April 1 to extend its burn ban. (Courtesy Pexels)

With the risk for wildfires high, Williamson County Commissioners voted 3-0 to extend a local declaration of disaster prohibiting outdoor burning during a special-called meeting April 1. Commissioners Cynthia Long and Russ Boles were not in attendance.

Williamson County Fire Marshall Hank Jones said elevated temperatures and high winds have caused the dry ground conditions and recommended the extension.

The order prohibits burning in all unincorporated areas of the county as well as smoking in county parks, preserves and trails.

County Judge Bill Gravell initially signed a declaration of local disaster prohibiting outdoor burning March 25. However, that declaration can only be in place for a week without approval by Commissioners Court.

According to the extended order, it is valid until it is canceled by Commissioners Court or a burn ban is issued. Gravell said he expects the need to prohibit outdoor burning to last for at least the next two weeks.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey tied the order—which prohibits the burning of debris and other household yard waste—to the March 21 tornadoes, which caused damage in Round Rock as well as more rural areas of the county.

Instead of burning debris from the storm, commissioners encouraged residents to take it to the landfill at 600 Landfill Road, Hutto. Vouchers for free drop-off services are available through the county.

Residents who violate the order may be subject to a fine not to exceed $1,000 or jail time not to exceed 180 days.

Gravell also provided brief updates about the ongoing recovery efforts in the county. He said 110 families were served by the multiagency resource center at the Williamson County Expo Center this week.

More than 1,100 structures—the majority of which are in the city of Round Rock—were damaged during the two tornadoes, Gravell said.
By Claire Shoop

Reporter, Northwest Austin

Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition and in December 2021 moved to Austin to become the reporter for the Northwest Austin edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.