Despite the burn ban that has been in place since late August and the increased dryness, Henderson County firefighters continue to respond to illegal burns.
According to the Henderson County Fire Marshal's Office, as of Tuesday, about 99 burn ban violations have been reported since it went into place. The burn ban had been appearing on Commissioners Court agenda often, so they could review it and lift it if conditions improved, With the Keetch-Byram Drought Index for the county so high, removal of the ban was not discussed at Commissioners Court on Tuesday.
The county Keetch-Byram reading had reached 739 on the 800 point scale on Tuesday, up two points from the previous day. The driest part of the county measured 768, with the least dry reading 627, well above the threshold of 575 the county uses to determine if a burn ban is warranted.
The scale is based on the estimate that if the soil was completely dry it would take 8 inches of rain to saturate it.
On Tuesday, the Texas A&M forecast of fire danger placed Henderson County in a high fire danger zone. The wind can be a factor in determining the degree of fire danger as well as the dryness.
Over the weekend, the Payne Springs Fire Department responded to an illegal burn on Sunday that got out of control and moved toward a wood line. Firefighters from Caney City, Malakoff and Eustace helped at the scene. Meanwhile other grass fires have popped up in other parts of the county.
For those who ignore the ban, a fine could be in store.
According to the state outdoor burning statute, violation of an outdoor burning restriction is a Class C misdemeanor, and is punishable by a fine up to $500. There are certain exceptions to the ban, including: firefighter training; public utility, Texas Department of Public Safety, natural gas pipeline or mining operations; planting or harvesting of a crop.