Mckinney Courier-gazette > News
Collin County burn ban lifted
A burn ban prohibiting outdoor burning in Collin County was lifted by the Commissioners Court during its regular meeting on Monday.
The county issued the 90-day ban in late July for the unincorporated areas of Collin County, which had been determined to be under drought conditions by the Texas Forest Service and the Collin County Fire Marshal. The ban outlawed all outdoor and open burning of natural vegetation, trees and limbs.
Burn permit holders may now burn outdoors, weather allowing. Those who were unable to utilize their permit during the ban period will be granted an extension to make up for the days lost, said Interim Fire Marshal Jason Browning. Even though the ban has been lifted, residents must have a burn permit to burn outdoors legally.
"The burn ban was successful this year, as we had 100 percent compliance among burn permit holders," Browning said. "The grass fires in the county dropped in half after the burn ban was put in place. The majority of fires we did have were caused by uncontrollable means such as trailer tire blowouts or faulty mechanical equipment during crop harvesting."
The Collin County Fire Marshal's Office takes into account several factors when enacting and rescinding burn bans, including climate, winds and rainfall. Environmental observation alone, however, is not always the most accurate way of determining the need to control outdoor burning, Browning said, as other drought signs lie beneath the earth's surface.
Because of this, counties rely heavily on the Keetch-Bynam Drought Index (KBDI), which is a measurement of the moisture content within the first 8 inches of the soil. The soil is measured on a scale of zero to 800, with zero meaning the soil is saturated and 800 indicating extreme drought conditions.
"While short grasses with shallow root systems may be turning green because of some rain, it can be deceiving," Browning said. "The problem is the larger brush and trees with deeper root systems are not getting any moisture because the rainfall hasn't penetrated the soil to the root system. These larger fuel loads are the most dangerous during a large grass fire event."
Browning said the county was justified in enforcing a burn ban this year based on local factors and the KBDI being in the 720-plus range for several weeks. This summer was not as bad as last year, however, as Browning said the KBDI hit 790 to 800 several times during that period.
Although the area is not as dry as it has been, Browning urged residents to use common sense when burning outdoors. Prior to burning, burn permit holders must call the Collin County's burn information line to determine the burn status for the day and are prohibited to burn on high ozone days. Wind is also a factor, as winds less than 6 mph are not sufficient enough for effectively fueling a fire, while gusts higher than 20 mph run the risk for spreading embers.
Burn piles should also not be larger than 10 feet in diameter, 5 feet in height and have a 50-foot clearance from structures and other combustible materials. At no time should outdoor fires be left unattended and there must be a water supply or adequately sized fire extinguisher readily available for use, Browning said.
For information on outdoor burning, fire education and how to obtain a burning permit, call the Collin County Fire Marshal's Office at 972-548-5576, or visit its web page at co.collin.tx.us.
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