Wichita County implements burn ban effective Oct. 1

Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 11:14 AM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The Wichita County Commissioners Court has agreed to reinstate a burn ban for Wichita County, but that burn ban won’t go into effect right away.

County commissioners said they got several complaints the last time a burn ban was put into place because of the short notice given to residents and crews working in the county.

For that reason, the ban approved won’t go into effect until Saturday, Oct. 1 at 12:01 a.m.

“This is their chance to get this done but don’t just go out there and light everything up,” Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said. “You are still responsible if that fire gets out of hand or anything else happens, you can be cited for that, you can be sued for that so be careful.”

With the combination of a lack of rain, extremely dry grounds and windy conditions, the commissioners agreed it’s time to reinstate the county’s burn ban.

“We have relatively low winds,” Keith Tressler, Battalion Chief in training at the Wichita Falls Fire Department, said. “The humidity is relatively low right now which is a problem for us. Anytime the humidity drops down into the teens, obviously the fire danger goes up.”

Tressler said like all of us, the fire department is hopeful for rain because the way the ground is right now, it is practically fuel for fires. Which is why Gossom said if you decide to burn something this week before the burn ban goes into effect, it’s best if you can let authorities know.

“If you are going to burn anything large, brush piles or things, let the fire department know, let the sheriff’s office know that you are doing that,” Gossom said.

Things that can be done to help prevent fires are not throwing cigarettes out in the grass, not using chains when driving because of sparks that could be made and keeping your yard mowed.

“Keep things trimmed back, keep it as low as you can, keep things watered as much as you can,” Tressler said. “The gutter system on your houses, clean those out because those do get a lot of leaves in them and embers will light that off which leads to structure fires.”

Although we are beginning to experience cooler temperatures, firefighters say that without rain, the danger remains.

“Fall and winter will still remain fairly dry,” Tressler said. “Things dry out in the winter so we will just prepare the same way we always do. High fire danger days, we will hire back people, we will staff more for that.”

“I think this is going to be around for a while, so they may need to look at getting a plan for doing away their trash and things like that that they need to plan on,” Gossom said.

If you decide to burn anyways, you could be fined up to $500 or arrested.