NEWS HEADLINES

Burning still prohibited

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, August 29, 2018
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Outdoor burning is still prohibited in Wise County, but commissioners did tweak the document Monday for its renewal.

The full burn ban was renewed for 30 days through the end of September. The renewal includes a clause, effective immediately, allowing County Judge J.D. Clark to lift the ban or revert to a Red Flag/elevated fire danger burn ban, based on the weather.

“My recommendation is to extend the current burn ban for 30 days … but if we do get another significant rain event come through, we could either revert back or lift it,” said Emergency Management Coordinator Cody Powell. “The northwestern part of the county is still very, very dry.”

Clark explained that under the current burn ban, it can be lifted or modified only through commissioners action.

“… but the statute does allow if you want to task me with it, if we were to get significant rainfall, based on the recommendation of the fire marshal and emergency management coordinator, I could shift it to a Red Flag burn ban if you want me to have that leeway,” he said.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White asked if the county could go back to the Red Flag burn ban until the next commissioners meeting Sept. 10.

“Could we do that and then look at it in next court and see if we want to go full burn ban?” he asked. “That would give them 10 days, two weeks to do burning.”

Powell wasn’t in favor of the idea, saying in some parts of the county it’s actually more dangerous now.

“The only problem with that is in the areas where the soil drying hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “When you get a heavy rain, the fuel dries out, but the soil hasn’t dried out so now you’ve got fuel on top of soil where brush trucks are going to get stuck.”

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns said that is not the case in Wise County right now. Everything is dry, he said.

White also said he wasn’t concerned about brush trucks getting stuck. He doesn’t think it’s an issue.

“People just need to burn,” he said. “They’ve waited three or four weeks now, and if we give them the opportunity to burn the next two weeks, then we can look at it and see which way we want to go with it at that time.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance questioned if the pressure to burn was really that great.

Burns spoke up and said he supported keeping a full burn ban if Clark has the authority to change it to a weather-based ban as conditions improved.

“I’m in agriculture, as well, and it’s a hardship,” he said. “It’s frustrating when you’re a reasonable, bright individual and know how to safely burn, and we won’t allow it.

“It’s very frustrating. There have been plenty of good days to burn since this rainfall.”

Precinct 4 Commissioner Gaylord Kennedy said he also supported continuing the full burn ban and giving Clark the authority to make changes as recommended by Powell and Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty.

The measure passed 3-1 with White the lone vote against.

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