By Lynda Jones
Houston County is not under an outdoor burn ban ... yet. County Fire Marshal Roger Dickey said on Tuesday, July 19, "Our saving grace right now is higher humidity levels (mid to upper 80s) every morning and falling during the day."
"Counties to our west and south have initiated bans (on outdoor burning). Our KBDI (Keetch-Byram Drought Index) was 573 this morning. The 14-day projection is 671."
Nearby counties with active outdoor burn bans reported by the Texas A&M Forest Service on July 19 are Leon, Madison and Walker. Limestone, Robertson, Brazos and Grimes counties also have active outdoor burn bans.
Dickey explained to the Courier that one initiating factor for a burn ban will be when the daily relative humidity (RH) levels start decreasing. A second initiating factor will be increased fire responses.
Dickey advises residents, "It is time to consider waiting to burn those brush piles. If you do burn, I urge extreme caution and common sense when conducting any outdoor burning. Conditions are getting drier every day.
"During extended burn bans, we start getting calls from citizens wanting to know when they can burn. I would remind everyone that it is never an emergency that you 'have' to burn. We might 'want' to burn, or our place might look better if we can burn, but it can always wait until conditions are more safe."
He also reminds residents, "If you burn when it is not safe and fire gets out, there could be criminal or civil penalties. It's simply not worth the risk."
Dickey said anyone with questions about outdoor burning may call his office at 936-544-7175.