burn

Stray scattered showers Sunday were just enough to keep Wharton County from going under a burn ban.

But without a good drenching rain, the reprieve won’t last long.

“We will check the index next Monday,” Wharton County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Kirkland said.

Wharton County uses the state’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index to determine if a burn ban is needed. The zero to 800 scale measures moisture missing from soil based on a county wide average. At zero, ground squishes when you walk on it.

Each 100 points up the scale means soil would need roughly an inch of slow, soaking rain to become throughly soggy. At 500, an area is considered to be at extreme danger for wildfire.

Monday’s KBDI measurement is the one that decides when or if a burn ban is warranted in rural Wharton County.

“Yesterday’s scattered showers lowered the average KBDI value for Wharton County from Sunday’s 505 to 486 today,” Kirkland said.

If a ban is ordered, it is announced in the Wednesday paper and goes into effect that night. Anytime enough rain falls, the ban is lifted.

Those wanting to burn this week are reminded to call and register the fire with the county sheriff’s department at 979-543-1373. Callers need to provide the location of the fire, the intended burning time, contact number and what will be burned.

Even without a ban, it is illegal to burn if winds exceed 22 mph.

The sheriff’s department will advise callers whether conditions permit burning and let dispatchers know fire locations to help prevent volunteers being sent to douse controlled burns.

A fire is not considered controlled if no one is there to monitor it with a method handy to douse flames if needed.

All open fires have to be extinguished before dark and must be at least 300 feet from a structure.

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