The Hays County Commissioners Court on Tuesday reinstated a countywide burn ban.
“Unfortunately, dry weather is continuing and it is no longer safe to allow outdoor burning,” said Fire Marshal Mark Chambers. “On Monday the drought index was 562 and expected to increase. Typically, when the index approaches 575 we look at issuing a burn ban. At that point, fine fuel such as grasses are drying out and dying and are very combustible.”
The ban exempts charcoal and gas grills, but burning in “burn barrels” (even ones with screens on the top) is not allowed.
“If you do use an outdoor grill, please be extremely careful. Never leave your grill unattended and make sure you have a water source nearby in case sparks escape,” Chambers said. “Place your grill away from anything that could catch fire. Triple-check the coals before you dispose of them to ensure no embers are warm.”
Chambers also cautioned residents to avoid parking vehicles on grassy areas since automobile catalytic converters can start fires along the road, and to refrain from tossing cigarettes outside as well – even ones that appear to be out can still be a fire hazard.
Residents can help lower the risk of grass fires by making sure vegetation is cut back and periodically watered in compliance with any local watering restrictions. Additional information on protecting your home from fire is available at by clicking on the Wildfire Action Guide icon at www.co.hays.tx.us.
Violators of the burn ban could face a class C misdemeanor charge with a fine up to $500. Fire Marshal Mark Chambers says that fire officials are taking a “zero tolerance” approach to violators, and that tickets will be issued to those who violate the ban.
— LAUREEN CHERNOW/HAYS COUNTY