Archer County Under Burn Ban

Due to the cold and dry weather, another Texoma county has issued a burn ban.

Archer County Commissioners enacted the 30 day ban Monday.

The county joins Montague County who is under a 90 day burn ban restricting any outdoor burning.

There have already been several wildfires in Archer County this year.

Yet decision to put a burn ban in place wasn't a popular one for Archer County.

"Every time, if it were possible, we would vote to not have a burn ban. It's just generally not good for a county like Archer where maybe half of its population lives in the unincorporated area, " says Gary W. Beesinger, the Archer County Judge.

The burn ban mainly affects residents living in un-incorporated areas of the county. Those people don't have trash pickup and are forced to burn their garbage. But the ban is forcing them to either dump in Wichita Falls, pay for a service, or keep trash for a month. The inconvenience can cost residents and put pressure on the county.

"You have one group of folks in enacting the burn ban presents a hardship for them and because you have a lot of those folks live out in the unincorporated area. Yes, so our Commissioners Court does feel some pressure from that," explains the Judge.

Cody Rattan, the Regional Fire Coordinator with the Texas Forest Service understands. "You are inconveniencing a lot of people by putting a burn ban in place but when it needs to be in place, it needs to be there to prevent these type of catastrophic type fires like the April 2009 season and years past."

The devastating April season which produced the Ringold fire that ripped through the county and destroyed thousands of acres. Rattan warns that this year, the same factors are in place to start a major fire.

"Looking at weather patterns, we are in the La Nina cycle right now and weather patterns kind of setting up the same as the '09 season," says Rattan. "But our fuel loads are higher, so it can be as bad or worse as the April '09 season, potentially."

Even though the potential damage is a concern, residential hardships are also a factor.

"I certainly sympathize with their plight, it does get to become a hardship. I can't imagine what it would be like for me not to be able to dump my trash for a month, it'd be pretty hard," says the Judge.

That's why one Commissioner voted against the ban. However the Court took the concerns of firefighters and outlawed all outdoor burning for 30 days, with some restrictions. Agriculture burning is still allowed, as are fires from a prescribed burn manager, firefighter training, and public utility burns. However, all flying fireworks are banned, which can cost the county, and firework retailers money. Supporters of the ban say the sacrifice is worth it.

"Fires can start really quickly and they'll grow really quickly and this is--fires in this fuel type are some of the fastest moving fires anywhere in the country," says Rattan.

The Texas Forest Service warns this week is a high risk fire damage week, with low relative humidity and high winds. Officials say the worst day for potential fires is Wednesday, December 15.

Mary Moloney, Newschannel 6