Fire

BELTON — Bell County commissioners did not reignite the burn ban Monday after it expired last week.

The Commissioners Court took no action on placing a new burn ban. The previous prohibition ended Oct. 15; it was originally called for on Aug. 19.

Bell County Judge David Blackburn asked Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Harmon to seek a recommendation from rural fire chiefs. They suggested to the commissioners that a burn ban was not needed right now.

Bell County registered an average reading of 658 on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index — which measures the moisture depletion of an area. The higher the number, the drier it is. The county had a minimum of 569 and a maximum of 720 on the index.

These numbers are lower than Bell County’s readings on the KBDI from Sept. 30, the last time commissioners extended the burn ban. Then, the county had an average of 716 on the index.

While conditions across the county have improved since late September, the area is still under a drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows southeast Bell County under a severe drought while the remaining portion of the county is under a moderate drought.

Recent rainfall, while minimal, has improved Bell County’s drought conditions. The county saw an average of .19 inches of rain in the past week, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Currently, 136 counties in Texas have a burn ban, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

“You can generally see that it is South and West Texas that are under a burn ban right now,” Blackburn said.

Four of Bell County’s neighbors have a burn ban in place: Coryell, Lampasas, Burnet and Falls counties. Williamson, Milam and McLennan counties do not have an active burn ban.