Update: Burn ban in unincorporated parts of Hays County lifted Feb. 20

Update: The Hays County Fire Marshal on Tuesday lifted the burn ban originally placed on Jan. 16 for unincorporated parts of the county.

Persons planning to burn outdoors should be aware of wind conditions and delay burning if winds are
expected to be gusty or high.

Original post: In the middle of a snow storm, Hays County is reinstating its burn ban. Here's why.

Citing an uptick in brush fires and dry soil and grasses, the Hays County fire marshal has asked commissioners to reinstate the burn ban in unincorporated areas and extraterritorial jurisdictions of the county, and on Tuesday, commissioners agreed.

According to Texas Water Connection, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, or KBDI, is an index used to determine forest fire potential. The drought index is based on a daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture.

Fire Marshal Clint Browning said the county's ground and fuel moistures were very low, something the KBDI does not measure.

“Local fire chiefs have requested the ban be reinstated because of an uptick in brush fires, the majority of which have been caused by unsupervised burning of brush and materials," he said in a news release. "Those fires are becoming more difficult to handle since soil is extremely dry, and grasses which fuel those fires are very dry as well.”

He said the the slight chance of rain throughout the next several days might only complicate brush fire response, since fire-fighting vehicles face getting stuck in fields that contain dead winter grasses, and those grasses won’t turn green and more resistant to fire until spring.

Charcoal, wood and gas grills with lids are exempt from the ban, but burning in burn barrels or fire pits is not allowed. Grilling of any kind is prohibited in Hays County parks under a burn ban.

Hays County is under a winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service until 6 p.m. Tuesday. Snow, ice and sleet have been reported on roads, and the county's office of emergency management has advised drivers to stay home.


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