AUSTIN (KXAN) — A burn ban prohibits anyone and everyone from taking part in outdoor burning of any sort if there is a risk of a wildfire starting. The only exception for outdoor burning during a burn ban is if the flames and sparks are entirely enclosed, eliminating the risk of starting a fire.
Violation of a burn ban can also be characterized as engaging in any activity that allows for the possibility of flames or sparks to result in a fire. There are two entities that possess the ability to enact a burn ban.
According to Texas A&M Forest Service, “In Texas, local governments are empowered to take action on the behalf of those they serve. When drought conditions exist, a burn ban can be put in place by a county judge or county commissioners court prohibiting or restricting outdoor burning for public safety.”
Prescribed burns for the purpose of land management are possible during burn bans but must be approved as an “exception” by a local court. Due to the extreme risk during a burn ban, it is exceedingly difficult to gain authorization from a local court to perform a prescribed burn.
Burn bans are often put in place when drought conditions exist. A drought leads to a dramatic increase in wildfire risk as the land is dry and vegetation becomes easily combustible. By enacting a burn ban, the probability of a wildfire becomes considerably lower.
Austin’s own Travis County is currently in a burn ban due to Central Texas receiving roughly five inches less than its average amount of rain over the course of the past several months. This has resulted in very dry conditions, and therefore, makes a burn ban necessary to prevent a rapidly spreading fire from igniting.