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County enacts burn ban
Edwin Baker, coordinator of the Wilson County Health and Public Safety Office
Outdoor burning in Wilson County could be banned until March 27, following the Wilson County Commissioners Court’s unanimous vote Dec. 27 to institute a burn ban.
The county could lift the ban, however, if conditions improve. State law allows county-implemented bans to last for 90 days. The Bexar County Commissioners Court, in a Dec. 27 emergency meeting, also enacted a burn ban. Burning also is banned in Guadalupe County.
Wilson County Health and Public Safety Office Coordinator Edwin Baker, who serves as the county’s fire marshal, recommended the ban. He said that recent cooler temperatures, low humidity, and wind conditions have created optimal conditions for fires to quickly get out of control.
This was especially apparent on Christmas Day -- when, instead of enjoying time with friends and family, many area volunteer firefighters were battling grass fires. There were at least seven that day, he said, including one that scorched approximately 20 acres.
In St. Hedwig, just north of the Wilson County line in Bexar County, Fire Chief Larry Padalecki said his department responded to at least three fires Christmas Day. This includes assisting 12 other agencies at a massive blaze near the intersection of F.M. 1516 and Loop 1604 in Converse, which worked its way into nearby San Antonio and burned well into the night.
While there were no reports of injuries or damage to structures on Dec. 25, Baker said a Dec. 21 grass fire at the Meadow Haven Horse Rescue on C.R. 444 near the Gonzales-Wilson county line claimed two travel trailers, tack trailers, hay, and one vehicle.
As of Dec. 27, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) average for Wilson County was 487, with a high of 617 and a low of 360. Baker said this reading does not accurately depict conditions in the county, as it is based on surface moisture conditions during summer months.
This is why fireworks were not restricted prior to the state’s Dec. 15 deadline, because fireworks bans usually are not implemented until the KBDI average reaches 575 or higher.
During a burn ban, burning of household trash is permitted during daylight hours and only in a screened burn barrel. Anyone caught violating the ban is subject to a $500 fine, and could be found civilly liable for property damage.
For more information about the burn ban, call the Wilson County Health and Public Safety Office at 830-393-8503.
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