Burn ban back on as dry conditions continue

Autumn Owens aowens@empiretribune.com
The Erath County burn ban is back in effect as dry conditions and high winds continue across the area.

After temporarily lifting the burn ban in Erath County, Judge Tab Thompson said the ban is back on.

“This is always a pain because it rains a little bit and everybody thinks it’s okay (to burn), but really it’s still dry,” Thompson said Thursday. “The fire fighters say as soon as the wind picks up it’s going to be dry again.”

As of Thursday, Erath County was in the 300-400 range on the Texas A&M Forest Service’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index and though that isn’t the highest on the drought scale, it states that “Fuels are beginning to dry and contribute to wildfire intensity.”

There have been several small grass fires recently but last month the county saw two large grass fires that burned more than 100 acres each, which contributed to the burn ban being issued.

It’s hard to say how long the ban will be in effect, but Thompson and the commissioners will make that decision when the time comes.

Violations to the burn ban order will be considered a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.

Thompson also discussed the short agenda the Erath County commissioners tackled Wednesday.

Here’s a look at the agenda:

  • Approve budget change by line-item transfer;
  • Consider and/or approve preliminary plat for Mustang Meadows Phase I;
  • Consider and/or approve paying fiscal year 2017 invoices from fiscal year 2018 budget;
  • Consider and/or approve deeming Sheriff’s Office equipment as surplus;
  • Consider and/or approve donating surplus items to other agencies;
  • Consider and/or approve selling older ambulance to Comanche County;
  • And a pre-application meeting for Rolling Meadows Ranch with Chance Kite.

“There were a couple of line-item transfers; small routine stuff, nothing big,” Thompson said. “We didn’t do anything with Mustang Meadows. We’re waiting on them to make a couple of changes. We paid a couple of invoices and the sheriff had some old equipment that we deemed surplus. We can’t sell the ambulance directly to Comanche, but we have one we’re going to try and get rid of so we didn’t do anything there.”

The commissioners now meet at 9 a.m. every Wednesday, with the bigger meetings still being held on the second and fourth one of the month. The next big meeting will be on Jan. 24.