Fire

BELTON — Bell County lifted its burn ban Monday morning — after significant rainfall last week helped relieve drought conditions.

The Bell County Commissioners Court approved the lifting of the burn ban as cooler temperatures and higher humidity have returned to Central Texas.

The burn ban — put into place by the court in July — was set to be extended until Sept. 28 but had been temporarily lifted last week due to the rains received in the area. The commissioners voted unanimously to lift the ban, with the thought that they could re-implement it if needed.

Fire Marshal Chris Mahlstedt said the county fell below 200 on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which measures the moisture depletion of an area, and recommended the ban be lifted for now.

“Looking at the forecast we’ve got one day at 90 and the rest are under 90, so we are going to have lower temperatures and higher humidity,” Mahlstedt said. “Wind has been good, we’ve been under 20 mile per hour sustained (wind), with 30 mile per hour gusts. My recommendation would be to lift it altogether indefinitely and then revisit if we have changing weather patterns.”

The drop on the drought index was steep after comparing it to Aug. 31 where county had an average reading of 728, with the maximum reading at 754 and the minimum being 666.

Mahlstedt noted that three of the seven counties bordering Bell County — Coryell, Milam and Falls — still had burn bans in place while the remaining four do not.

The Texas Water Development Board showed this week that Bell County moved from having a severe drought intensity last week to now only being abnormally dry.