Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County enacts burn ban, effective June 24

Stephens County enacts burn ban, effective June 24
June 26
11:12 2024

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

At their meeting on Monday, June 24, the Stephens County Commissioners voted to enact a burn ban for the unincorporated areas of the county.

The burn ban will be in effect for 90 days, unless lifted at an earlier date, and includes activities such as brush or trash burning.

However, the burn ban does not affect the use of fireworks for Independence Day celebrations or outdoor grilling. Additionally, the burn ban does not prohibit outdoor burning activities related to public health and safety that are authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for firefighter training; public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations; planting or harvesting of agricultural crops; or burns that are conducted by a prescribed burn manager certified under the Natural Resources Code.

The burn ban was put in place because the county has a lot of tall grass as a result of recent spring rains, and the forecasted 100-degree temperatures will likely dry out that grass, creating a fire hazard, County Judge Michael Roach said.

Although the county is not considered in drought conditions, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) has increased lately. According to the KBDI website, on June 14, Stephens County had a minimum KBDI of 36 and a maximum of 258 (in a small area in the southwestern corner of the county) for an average of 83. Yesterday, June 25, the minimum for the county was 189, the maximum was 368, and the average was 232. This morning, Wednesday, June 26, the numbers have increased to 205 for the minimum, 380 for the maximum and 247 for the average.

Keetch-Bynum Drought Index for June 26, 2024

According to the Stephens County Facebook page, the KBDI is used to determine forest fire potential. The 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.

The KBDI attempts to measure the amount of precipitation needed to bring the top eight inches of soil back to saturation. The drought index ranges from 0 to 800, where a drought index of 0 represents complete soil saturation or no moisture depletion, and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions at which it would take 8 inches of precipitation to fully saturate the soil.

The index is divided into categories, based on those numbers:

  • 0 – 200 Soil and fuel moisture is high. Most fuels will not contribute much to wildfire intensity. This is often seen in spring after winter precipitation.
  • 200 – 400 Fuels are beginning to dry and contribute to wildfire intensity. Heavier fuels will still not readily ignite and burn. This is often seen in late spring. Stephens County is in this category, as of June 26, 2024.
  • 400 – 600 Wildfire intensity begins to increase significantly. Wildfires will readily burn and larger fuels could burn or smolder for several days. This is often seen in late summer and early fall.
  • 600 – 800 Wildfires will show extreme intensity. Deep-burning, intense wildfires with significant spotting can be expected. This is often associated with severe drought.

Current weather forecasts show daily high temperatures at or above 100 degree every day for at least the next two weeks. The expected high temperatures, along with relatively high humidity, have prompted a Heat Advisory from the National Weather Service for much of north and central Texas, including Stephens County.

Stephens County, Texas, Burn Ban, effective June 24, 2024.



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