County burn ban lifted Monday following recent rains

By Lisa Treiber-Walter— Just less than a month after it was enacted, Gillespie County’s “burn ban” was lifted Monday, Sept. 23, making it legal once again for residents to conduct outdoor, open-flame burning.

Acting on the advice of the county’s fire marshal, Steve Olfers, Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher signed the order releasing the burn ban restrictions at 3 p.m., Monday.

“Residents who plan to burn still need to proceed with extreme caution,” Olfers said. “You still have to evaluate your own specific areas and what hazards may exist,” he said, pointing out that, while the rainfall  dousing Gillespie County was “a great event,” not all areas received as much as the eight inches of moisture that was recorded in the Doss area.

“The west side of the county got considerably more than the east,” Olfers said, but explained that the substantial rains, plus the onset of fall with its cooler temperatures and generally wetter conditions made it a “good time to try to accommodate folks.”

The burn ban had been enacted 29 days before on Monday, Aug. 26, when local fire officials recognized that the county had reached a “critical situation” with wildfire hazards presented by low ground moisture and drying up canopy and other above-ground foliage.

While “grass fire” calls to the county’s six rural fire departments, including Fredericksburg, had been minimal, officials said the conditions were present to support the implementation of a burn ban at that time.

When it was enacted, the burn ban put Gillespie County alongside 140 other counties in Texas in danger of wildfires and which had similar bans in place, according to the Texas Forest Service.

As of yesterday, the Texas Forest Service’s map revealed that count had fallen to 93 total counties with continuing burn bans.

And, in spite of widespread rains across Texas, the Texas Forest Service recognizes how quickly things can dry up and the continuing threat of wildfire fuel in high grasses and so still defines Gillespie County as existing in a “moderate” fire danger area for the foreseeable future.

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