Commissioners reinstate countywide burn ban

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UNLIKE IN 2011 when there were sometimes multiple calls in a day, grass fires like this one being extinguished Friday evening, Aug. 23, by Fredericksburg Volunteer Fire Department member Phillip Baumann alongside Shorty Crenwelge Road near U.S. Highway 87, north of Fredericksburg, have amounted to very little call volume this summer. Still, the county’s worsening drought condition from “severe” to “critical” this past week and the drying up of dangerous canopy fuels led fire chiefs to recommend the ban on open-air, outdoor burning. It was enacted by the Gillespie County Commissioners’ Court Monday morning, Aug. 26. — Standard-Radio Post/Danny Hirt

By Lisa Treiber-Walter —

A countywide “burn ban” prohibiting outdoor burning was enacted by the Gillespie County Commissioners’ Court Monday morning, Aug. 26.

The order was signed into effect at 9:15 a.m. when county officials acted on the urging of Gillespie County Fire Marshall Steve Olfers.

“We recognize that there are some areas of the county better off than others, but, generally, the county is still in a pretty critical situation,” Olfers advised commissioners.

The “sprinkles” of rain that fell Monday and Tuesday amounted to temporary moisture that would not make significant changes in the drought picture, he said.

“Overall, we’re losing ground moisture which affects your canopy fires (from cedars and other above-ground foliage),” Olfers said.

“When you think about the data we’re getting with the canopies and the larger fuels drying up, it makes life so much more difficult with that threat,” he added.

What has helped has been smart landowners, Olfers said. “Folks around here have been wonderful — they’ve been so very careful and prudent with what they do. My hat’s off to them.”

He admitted that calls for out-of-control grass fires have been basically “non-existent” for Gillespie’s six volunteer fire departments, Olfers said.

That’s why, at first, chiefs of those departments were split on the decision of whether or not to support a burn ban at this time.

But, after taking into account the county’s recently-worsened drought status from “severe” to “critical” by the Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District, the chiefs reached a consensus to support the ban.

For more on this story, read this week’s print and online editions of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. If you are a print subscriber, your full online subscription is free. All you need to do is call 830-997-2155 to get a password. If you are not a subscriber, call 997-2155 or click on the ‘Subscribe’ button on the left side of the home page and sign up today!> 

 

A countywide “burn ban” prohibiting outdoor burning was enacted by the Gillespie County Commissioners’ Court Monday morning, Aug. 26.

The order was signed into effect at 9:15 a.m. when county officials acted on the urging of Gillespie County Fire Marshall Steve Olfers.

“We recognize that there are some areas of the county better off than others, but, generally, the county is still in a pretty critical situation,” Olfers advised commissioners.

The “sprinkles” of rain that fell Monday and Tuesday amounted to temporary moisture that would not make significant changes in the drought picture, he said.

“Overall, we’re losing ground moisture which affects your canopy fires (from cedars and other above-ground foliage),” Olfers said.

“When you think about the data we’re getting with the canopies and the larger fuels drying up, it makes life so much more difficult with that threat,” he added.

What has helped has been smart landowners, Olfers said. “Folks around here have been wonderful — they’ve been so very careful and prudent with what they do. My hat’s off to them.”

He admitted that calls for out-of-control grass fires have been basically “non-existent” for Gillespie’s six volunteer fire departments, Olfers said.

That’s why, at first, chiefs of those departments were split on the decision of whether or not to support a burn ban at this time.

But, after taking into account the county’s recently-worsened drought status from “severe” to “critical” by the Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District, the chiefs reached a consensus to support the ban.

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