Burn ban remains in place; Severe drought dominates most of county

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, August 18, 2018

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Showers in the past two weeks ushered extreme drought conditions out of Wise County.

But severe drought conditions remained in place over all but the northwest corner of the county in the USDA’s drought monitor released Thursday.

Though conditions have temporarily improved, Wise County officials are not ready to call off the 90-day burn ban. All burning is currently prohibited.

Wise County Emergency Management Coordinator Cody Powell said the commissioners court will consider the ban at its Aug. 27 meeting.

“They can lift it or keep it in place,” Powell said.

Powell said he will remain in contact with officials from the National Weather Service and Texas A&M Forest Service for guidance on making a recommendation to commissioners on the ban.

At Decatur Municipal Airport, 2.93 inches of rain has fallen since Aug. 9, including 2.19 Aug. 13. Powell said isolated areas in the county received 5 inches.

“Other areas received 1 to 2 inches,” Powell said.

With the rainfall, the county average on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index has dropped from 730 early in the month to 489 Friday. The index measures the wildfire potential by taking into account the soil moisture. The scale goes to 800.

The high in the county Friday was 655.

Powell pointed out that the average jumped 11 points between last Thursday and Friday.

“With the rain we did get, we added water to some stock tanks and a few farmers may get another cut of hay. But in terms of fire conditions, we bought ourselves a week-and-a-half of relief.”

He said there is still a heavy fuel load that will dry out quickly.

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