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Burn Ban’s Still On, Fire Marshal Says, Texas A&M Forest Service Warns Hunters About Wildfires

Image courtesy of Texas A&M Forest Service.

Comal County Fire Marshal Cory Klabunde took to Facebook this morning to remind residents that despite recent rain, nothing has changed below ground.

He said his office has received “quite a few phone calls” from people who want to know if cooler weather and drizzle lifted the unpopular burn ban, which Comal County Commissioners reinstated on Oct. 8.

“Currently our Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is over 600,” he posted. “The slight rain we have been receiving has not done anything to help our dry situation. Please understand the burn ban does not go away just because the weather gets cooler or we have just a little bit of rain in one area of the county.

“This time of year there is a higher fire danger due to the very low humidity and the higher wind speeds,” he said. “Add this to the large amount of dry grass on the ground from this spring and summer, and we could have a fire get out of control very quickly.”

A&M Warns Hunters

On Tuesday, Texas A&M Forest Service urged Texans to help prevent wildfires during hunting season.

In a press release, the agency said many hunters and campers across the state are headed to the wild outdoors, increasing the potential for human-caused wildfires to start.

People and their activities cause more than 90-percent of wildfires, the Forest Service said.

“The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department wants Texas hunters to have a safe and successful hunting season,” said Chris Schenck, TPWD Wildlife Division State Fire Program Leader. “One part of that safe season is to practice good campfire safety. Smokey Bear’s message is still very important to Texas hunters.”

Campfires and ammunition are two other potential culprits.

Jacketed bullets and high-velocity ammunition should be avoided when fire danger is high, and target practice should occur over dirt or gravel, the agency said.

Other tips:

  • Avoid driving over and parking on dry grass because heat from a vehicle can easily ignite it.
  • Always be ready to extinguish a fire. Carry a shovel and water into camp, and keep a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Check with local officials for burn bans or other outdoor-burning restrictions. Each county in Texas sets and lifts its own burn bans. Open flames and charcoal are not allowed when a burn ban is in effect.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended and always make sure it is completely extinguished by “drowning it, stirring it and feeling to ensure that it is out cold.”
  • Trailer tires should be properly inflated so that chains will not contact roadways and any loose metal cannot continually hit anything else, causing sparks.

What’s a Burn Ban?

Under conditions of the burn ban, barbecue pits that are off the ground and have a lid to contain all sparks and flames are allowed for cooking purposes only.

“Please be very careful with any barbecue pits or hot work outside (welding, cutting metal, grinding),” he posted. “No brush fires, campfires, burn barrels, fire pits (rings) or other open flames are allowed during this time.”

For more information, call 830-643-3748 or visit mycomalcounty.com.

What’s the Keetch-Byram Drought Index?

According to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, KBDI is a daily value representative of the water balance. Yesterday’s drought index is balanced with today’s drought factor, a measure of precipitation and soil moisture. The drought index ranges from 0 to 800.

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