By LIBBY CLUETT
PALO PINTO – Palo Pinto County Judge David Nicklas' order last week to give the county burn ban a several-day hiatus ended Monday when commissioners authorized a 90-day burn ban.
County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell informed commissioners that fire departments urged implementing a burn ban, although, he said, citizens wanted it off.
From about 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, Harwell said fire crews were busy fighting an out-of-control controlled burn on Union Hill Road that consumed close to 20 acres.
“It was burning down in a box canyon in thick, thick stuff,” he said, adding that winds Sunday afternoon were high.
Harwell noted that grasses around Palo Pinto County are pretty green, and he reported to commissioners that dry conditions have varied from a high of 517 to a low of 298 on the Keetch-Byram
Drought Index, the index used to determine wildland fire potential. He said Monday's kbdi measurement was 420 and noted the forecast calls for temperatures over 100 degrees Farenheit beginning Wednesday, and he expects the drought index to rise as well.
The new order bans all outdoor burning, including burning brush or tree piles when clearing land.
Some exceptions are outdoor cooking – on gas or charcoal grills or campfires/cooking fires – and activities related to public health and safety that are authorized by the Texas Natural Resources Commission. TNRC activities include: firefighting training; public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations; planting or harvesting of agricultural crops; or burns that are conducted by a certified prescribed-burn manager.
A violation of the commissioners' order is a Class "C" misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.