Bell County Commissioners

BELTON — As humidity drops around the region, and grasses become drier, Bell County Commissioners will start looking at implementing a burn ban.

Starting today, Commissioners will look at implementing the restrictions on outdoor burning each week based upon conditions around the county. Commissioners asked for the weekly report following a presentation by Fire Marshal Chris Mahlstedt during last week’s workshop.

A local burn ban would prohibit or restrict some forms of outdoor burning in the county to protect from possible fires.

Mahlstedt said the county already has started to see elements of its burn ban checklist being met.

Some of the criteria for a burn ban in the county includes a relative humidity at or less than 25% and moisture in 10-hour fuel, such as grass and leaves that take 10 hours to adjust to moisture conditions, at or below 25%.

“So the 10-hour fuel numbers are still elevated up a little bit,” Mahlstedt said. “I think we are starting to see that shift as the winds increase, the humidity is going to be dropping and the temperature is dropping, too. With the wind increase and the dry humidity, (a burn ban) might be something we are looking at soon.”

Mahlstedt pointed out that the county has passed 500 on the Keetch-Byram Dought Index, another requirement for a burn ban.

The index, which ranges between zero and 800, determines forest fire potential through water balance. Any value above 500 on the index is a factor for the county in implementing the ban.

The nearby counties of Lampasas and McLennan both have put in place their own burn bans, another criteria for Bell County’s burn ban.

Commissioner Bobby Whitson said if the county didn’t see rain last week, as it didn’t, then the Commissioners should start considering the ban each week.