Breckenridge Texan

County Commissioners leave burn ban off, urge caution with fireworks

County Commissioners leave burn ban off, urge caution with fireworks
June 29
16:49 2023

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

When the Stephens County Commissioners met on Monday morning, they took no action on enacting a burn ban, on the advice of County Fire Marshal Wayne McMullin. This morning, Thursday, June 29, they met in a special meeting to pass a resolution affirming their support of local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to enforce all laws regarding fireworks during the upcoming Independence Day holiday.

By law, no fireworks may be used on property owned by Stephens County, such as county roads or other County-owned property. Stephens County property owners — who live outside the Breckenridge city limits — may discharge fireworks on their own property but are urged to use caution as the high heat continues to dry out the area. It is illegal to discharge any type of fireworks within the city limits of Breckenridge.

According to the resolution, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) for Stephens County has increased in the past few days. The KBDI is an index used to determining forest fire potential. The drought index is based on a daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture (assumed to have a maximum storage capacity of 8-inches) and is expressed in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion.

When the commissioners met on Monday, McMullin reported that the KBDI was in lower- to mid-level range with the county’s minimum at 247 and the maximum at 319.

Today, Texas A&M University’s KBDI website shows Stephens County to have a minimum KBDI of 309 and a maximum of 377 for an average of 343.

Even if a burn ban is enacted, it will not affect the public’s right to use fireworks at this time. According to Texas state law, the KBDI must be over 575 by June 15 before fireworks can be banned by a county. In 2018, when Stephens County issued a disaster declaration and banned the sale and use of all fireworks in the county, the KBDI was 585 and several wildfires had been burning in the area.

With the recent triple-digit temperatures drying out the brush in the county, several grassfires have been reported this week, according to the dispatch report from the Breckenridge Police Department. Additionally, a wildfire, now called the Storage Fire, near Possum Kingdom Lake in Palo Pinto County has been burning since Wednesday, June 28. It has burned more than 600 acres and is 40 percent contained, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service Incident Viewer.

In today’s resolution, the Stephens County Commissioners wish everyone a safe and happy holiday and encourage everyone to practice safe fireworks use and to comply with the state and local laws during the holiday.

For those who would like to enjoy professional fireworks shows, there will be two in Stephens County. On Saturday, July 1, the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce, along with Stowe’s Independent Services and Clear Fork Bank, will host Boomfest at Hubbard Creek Lake. And, on July 4, the Salute in the Salt Flats Fireworks Show will be hosted by Canyon Road Barn and Grill. Click here for more details about those fireworks shows.

Other County Business

During their June 26 meeting, the Commissioners also voted to remove the shrubs and a tree stump in the area around the Texas flag and historical marker in front of the courthouse. The shrubs were damaged by the major freezes the area has experienced in the past couple of years, and most of the shrubs are dead, County Judge Michael Roach said. The plan does not include the shrubs that are around the building, just the ones in that area, as well as another dead tree on the courthouse grounds.

The commissioners also agreed to move forward with the interlocal agreement between the County and the City of Breckenridge for the repair of some roads in the City. Roach and Commissioner Will Warren will meet with City officials to start scheduling that work.

Additionally, the commissioners approved the following:

  • the purchase of a flatbed trailer for Precinct 1
  • the purchase of a tractor for Precinct 2
  • the purchase of a belly dump trailer for Precinct 4
  • the purchase of a truck for Precinct 4

Stephens County Judge Michael Roach, right, discuss county business at their June 26 meeting. Commissioners, clockwise, from left, are Will Warren, Eric O’Dell, Mark McCullough and David Fambro. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Stephens County Fire Marshal Wayne McMullen talks to the Stephens County Commissioners on June 26 about the drought index and whether or not the county needs to be under a burn ban. The commissioners took no action on the topic, meaning that there is no burn ban at this time. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)




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