The Somervell County Commissioners met Tuesday morning in a special session and heard from Fire Chief/Fire Marshal Mark Crawford to consider whether the county should implement a burn ban.
While recent wildfires have grabbed headlines in California and even next door in Erath County, Somervell County’s fire risk is still not high enough to warrant a burn ban. Crawford said that’s according to the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), which measures the fire risk potential using a range of 0 to 800, with the higher number representing greater fire danger.
That — along with rainfall of about 1.5 inches that fell in some parts of the county Monday night — no doubt played a part in the fact that none of the commissioners filed a motion calling for a vote on the burn ban issue.
Crawford noted that the recent KBDI for Somervell County has been ranging between about 300 and 400.
A KBDI number of 575 or greater represents a significant risk for wildfires, Precinct 2 Commissioner John Curtis noted after the meeting.
According to the Texas A&M University website, the index “is derived from ground based estimates of temperature and precipitation” from weather stations, gathered by the Texas Forest Service.
“We’re still green,” Crawford said of the KBDI map of Texas counties. “It’s all scientific, based on the KBDI. It’s because we’re in this river basin. A lot of people want to burn during this rain.”
Crawford said that Somervell County’s KBDI will continue to be monitored on a daily basis.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Larry Hulsey said that most people who need to burn brush have enough common sense to know when to avoid burning.
That would include days during extended dry periods, and of course when there are high winds that can spread sparks.
Hulsey also noted that another meeting can be called if needed, with a 72-hour notice, to consider a burn ban.
“If the conditions change rapidly, we can always call a meeting,” Curtis said.
County Judge Danny Chambers said that the last time the county voted to implement a burn ban was in August 2016.
Chambers noted that firefighters from counties in the area will join together when needed, to prevent wildfires from getting out of hand.
“All of our surrounding counties work so well together that at the drop of a hat, we have response and resources,” Chambers said. “We help the other counties, and they help us.”
Rain continued to fall across the area during the day Tuesday, following the meeting.