11 Texoma Counties under burn bans, why not Wichita?

WICHITA COUNTY, Tx (RNN Texoma) - As of Tuesday, 11 Texoma counties are under a burn ban, but Wichita County is not included in that number.

With a massive grass fire burning 1,000 acres near Kamay and not even 24 hours after another one scorched 150 acres near Burkburnett, some are concerned.

"I moved here about two-and-a-half years ago from Iowa, and it's the biggest one I've seen," said Cobra Hobb.

Cobb is a mother of three and said it is not her home that worries her the most.

"It concerns me for my kids more than anything," said Hobb.

While those 11 counties remain under burn bans to help prevent grass fires like the recent ones we have seen, why isn't Wichita county?

Judge Woody Gossom said legally they have to base their decision off of the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI). KBDI determines forest fire potential by measuring the moisture in the ground.

Judge Gossom said the county is not at that level yet to issue a burn ban. However, there are ways around it.

"I as county judge or the commissioners could declare an emergency and then issue a burn ban," said Judge Gossom.

He adds doing so can be an inconvenience to those who do not have trash collection pick up and rely on burning their waste.

"They all of a sudden now have to figure out what to do to haul all that away," said Judge Gossom.

He said what they ask those residents to do is make sure their burn barrels are in good shape and to put a cover over the top of them to keep things from blowing out while burning the trash.

Those residents also want to keep an eye on it and make sure the ground is cleared around it.

"We try to work with people doing the right thing and have been very successful with that," said Judge Gossom. "To my knowledge, none of the fires we've had over the past few days have anything to do with someone doing something that started it."

Officials said they believe what did start both of those grass fire was electrical wires.

But even with that being the case, will a burn ban be coming soon?

Judge Gossom said they wait for recommendations from the Emergency Management Coordinator and the fire departments.

He said they work closely with those agencies.

"That's probably going to give us more concern to do something to support our volunteer fire departments," said Judge Gossom.

Chief Rodney Ryalls, with the Burkburnett Volunteer Fire Department, said he knows Wichita County will be under a burn ban at some point.

He adds if they start seeing fires started by people versus nature, they will push for one to be issued sooner.

Remember it is always illegal to burn in the Wichita Falls city limits, and if you do burn something during a burn ban it can lead to a $500 dollar fine and a Class B misdemeanor.

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