McLennan County prepared for Red Flag Warning Burn Ban

Posted at 8:17 PM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 10:25:32-05

Several counties across Central Texas are under a burn ban because of the dry conditions.

On Tuesday, McLennan County renewed their Red Flag Warning Burn Ban Order. The order is issued any time the National Weather Service issues a red flag warning. The burn ban order is in place for 90 days.

"What it says is conditions are right for extreme fire conditions today or fire spread," City of Waco and McLennan County Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Patterson said.

All unincorporated areas of McLennan County are banned from any outdoor burning during the red flag warning.

Patterson said there are several factors that go into issuing a burn ban. One of the main things the county looks at is the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) to determine forest fire potential. If the county reaches an average of 575, that means it is in extreme drought conditions. At that point, a burn ban would be issued. County officials also look at the low humidity levels, high winds and dry conditions.

"We still get those red flag morning days because of the low humidity and the high winds. And so that really is a stop-gap for when you don't have the burn ban. You really don't need a burn ban every day but you're kind of on the edge of those fire conditions, so that red flag burning ban fills that gap," Patterson said.

The county judge can also issue a burn ban under the disaster declaration process. 

"Just because you got a rain does not put moisture back into dead things. They don't green up. They are dead," Patterson said. "There's been times where we have fought fires in this county where we had fire trucks getting stuck in the mud and the grass was burning on top so it's dead."

Anyone found in violation of the burn ban order could be fined up to $500.

Patterson said he expects the county commissioners to issue an official burn ban, not just a red flag warning burn ban, sometime in the next few weeks.

Bell, Coryell, Lampasas, Hamilton, Mills Freestone, Leon, Brazos, Robertson, San Saba and Milam counties are all under a burn ban.

Copyright 2018 KXXV. All rights reserved.