By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – Summer has settled in and with it comes the typical, dry conditions of East Texas. In response to the steadily increasing dryness, both Houston and Anderson Counties have issued burn bans.
On Wednesday morning, June 22, Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston issued an order prohibiting or restricting outdoor burning which was unanimously adopted by the Anderson County Commissioners Court.
The order stated, “… outdoor burning is prohibited or restricted in the unincorporated area of the county of the county for 90 days from the date of the adoption of this Order unless the restrictions are terminated earlier based on determination made by: 1) the Texas Forest Service that drought conditions no longer exist; or 2) the Commissioners Court or the County Judge based on a determination that the circumstances that required the Order no longer exist.”
Later that afternoon, Houston County Judge Jim Lovell issued a “Declaration of Disaster and Order Prohibiting Outdoor Burning.”
The order states Houston County “… is under imminent threat of severe damage, injury of loss of life or property resulting from the threat of wildfires due to extremely dry grassland fuel, drought and other weather-related conditions.”
The disaster declaration “… shall continue for a period of not more than seven days from the date of this declaration unless renewed by the Commissioners Court of Houston County.”
It specifically states that all outdoor burning is prohibited in the unincorporated areas of Houston County but does not prohibit outdoor burning activities carried out by Federal Certified Agencies. The order also stated the Davy Crockett National Forest is exempt from the burn ban.
One of the tools used is determining whether to implement a burn is the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI).
According to the Texas Agrilife Extension website, “The KDBI is a daily value representative of the water balance where yesterday’s drought index is balanced with today’s drought factor (precipitation and soil moisture). The drought index ranges from 0 to 800; an index of 0 represents no moisture depletion and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions,”
As of Thursday, June 23, the Houston County registered a mean (average) of 604.07 on the KDBI scale while Anderson County registered a mean of 598.02.
A range of 600 to 800 is “… often associated with severe drought and increased wildfire occurrence. Expect intense, deep burning fires, with significant spotting problems. Live fuels will burn actively at these levels and expect fires to be difficult to contain and control,” the website stated.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.