With the area expected to remain under moderate-to-extreme drought conditions through the summer, Bexar County Commissioners have approved a new burn ban, effective immediately.
Bexar joins 74 other counties are under a burn ban as of today, according to the Texas Forest Service. Bexar County Fire Marshal Craig Roberts says he’s seen an increase in the number of grass fires in the late afternoons, in all parts of the county.
“What’s happening is that some of these fires are just fires that people aren’t paying attention to," Roberts said. "They start out as controlled burns and they end up burning beyond the capability of the individual that’s taking care of the controlled burn. Or, the individual isn’t watching and paying attention to what’s going on, and a little gust of wind picks up, and then all of a sudden we’ve got embers all over the place.”
Roberts says we’re on the high side of the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which is used by the Forest Service to determine wildfire potential based on precipitation and soil moisture.
“The scale runs from zero to 800. When we get to 400, that’s when we start watching our conditions real closely. For the last three weeks, we’ve been above 400," he said.
The previous burn ban in Bexar County ended last fall, and this one expires June 9 unless conditions improve. By state law, burn bans are issued for 90 days and the fire marshal must re-apply if an extension is needed after that time.