AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Texas A&M Forest Service warns that wildfire activity in Texas is expected to be high throughout the week, Travis County and Williamson County commissioners both approved a continuation of their county’s burn ban.
“We have not seen an improvement in conditions,” Travis County fire marshal Tony Callaway said before commissioners. “For that reason I strongly recommend that we enact a new burn ban.”
Callaway noted that we’re soon entering the wettest part of the year and that he hopes over the next few weeks Central Texas will get significant rain to help dampen fuels. Until then, the county is asking residents to take extra precautions.
Under the ban in unincorporated parts of the county you CANNOT:
- Burn any combustible material outside of an enclosure which contains all flames and/or sparks
- Engage in any activity outdoors that could allow flames or sparks that could result in a fire unless done in an enclosure designed to protect the spread of fire
You could face a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $500 if you don’t follow the rules.
Williamson County issued a burn ban for 90 days. The same fine applies there.
At the same time, the forest service is asking people to prepare for high fire danger this week. They went so far as to say in some parts of the state “high volume of wildfire activity expected.”
“It is the responsibility of each individual resident to prepare their home for wildfires,” said Kari Hines, Texas A&M Forest Service Firewise Program Coordinator. “Every year, hundreds of homes survive wildfires unaided, allowing firefighters to operate safely to protect them, due to the landscaping and building choices made long before the fire ever started.”
They ask Texans to take the following precautions:
- Within the first 30 feet of your home, use non-flammable landscaping materials. Within the first five feet, water plants, trees and mulch regularly, and consider xeriscaping if you are affected by water restrictions.
- A healthy, well-maintained landscape is important to the survival of homes during a wildfire. Make sure your plants are carefully spaced, low growing and free of resins, oils and waxes that burn easily.
- Remove dead vegetation from under the deck of your home and within 10 feet of the house.
- Prune your trees so that low-hanging branches do not touch the ground.
If you live in unincorporated Travis County and would like to get text messages about burn ban status changes, you can sign up for those alerts on Travis County’s website here.
If you have questions, you can contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at (512) 854-4621.