Burn ban violations continue across the Brazos Valley

Despite recent rainfall, most of the region remains under a burn ban, however, some have ignored the law and burned anyway.
KBTX News 3 at Six Weekday EXTENDED(Recurring)
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 9:19 PM CDT
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CENTERVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - Despite recent rainfall, most of the region remains under a burn ban, however, some have ignored the law and burned anyway.

Over the weekend firefighters in Leon County dealt with multiple burn ban violations, Leon County Judge Byron Ryder said. One of those violations included a backyard fire in Normange caused by a burn pit. According to Leon County Emergency Management, the fire was put out before it could reach the home, but it scorched the ground and destroyed the resident’s car and garage.

Since the burn ban in Leon County has been enacted there have been around 35 violations, Ryder said.

“We had one fire out east of town in Centerville where it started up about five different times, reigniting itself,” Ryder said. “We had people from forest service from Texas, Missouri, and Florida fighting that fire.”

Ryder said he believes many people think they can burn again after the county received about a half-inch to three inches of rain over the past few days.

“Everything’s still dry even though we had some rain, it soaked in,” Ryder said. “The grass and all the top of the ground is now dry, our trees are still dry. We’re having lots of problems with the sparking of electrical lines causing trees to catch fire. Our law enforcement is doing an outstanding job running those violations down.”

These fires not only create danger for residents, structures, and vegetation but they also take a toll on the firefighters who are responding, Ryder said.

“All we have is volunteers and they all have jobs,” Ryder said. “Their employers understand their situation, our situation in Leon County. A lot of them let their people off when there is a fire during the day and at night they’re taking constantly those calls, so they get tired too.”

Over in Robertson County, a grass fire over the weekend in Franklin off Old Hickory Grove Road was caused by a burn pile. It spread to over 20 acres before it was extinguished by the Franklin Volunteer Fire Department, Easterly Volunteer Fire Department, Bremond Volunteer Fire Department, Blackjack Volunteer Fire Department, Texas A&M Forest Service, and U.S. Forest Service.

It’s the same story to the south in Brazos County, according to Brazos County Volunteer Fire Department District 2.

“We got a little bit of rain, people thought oh ok the burn ban must be over it is not,” said Travis Rollins, Brazos County VFD District 2. “In District 2 alone we’ve had five violations and I’m sure there are more throughout the county.”

Rollins said the Brazos Valley is in a more “critically dangerous” part of the state because of the amount of fuel there is for fires.

“We just want to make sure people in the county and the surrounding counties respect the burn ban,” Rollins said. “It can get out of hand very quickly you got a lot of wind you got all these dry fuels. A little outdoor fire can turn into 20 acres, 40 acres.”

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service’s drought index, the Brazos Valley would need 5+ inches of rain to get back to saturation.

Once a burn ban is lifted Rollins said it’s still important to be cautious by making sure it’s a clear area, have water on hand, and have shovels and hand tools.

“There’s a non-emergency dispatch number that you can call and you can let dispatch know you’re going to do an outdoor burn,” Rollins said. “Again this is during the non-burn ban time of the year, but let them know so it reduces the amount of false calls we have to go to.”

Montgomery County recently lifted its burn ban, however, every other county in the Brazos Valley is still under a burn ban.