NUECES COUNTY, Texas — Over the last few weeks, fire departments in rural Nueces County have been busy responding to fire calls.
On Friday, Rene Guerra, the public information officer for the Bluntzer Fire Department requested the Nueces County Commissioners consider implementing a burn ban for the county this week.
“It’s more the volunteer departments, and the paid departments, basically catching a break,” Guerra said on Tuesday. “Not only do we fight our own fires in our own district, we also help out with Annaville, Robstown, Agua Dulce, on their calls as well. So, we provide a lot of mutual aid. A lot of the departments in Nueces County, they do go to Kenedy County, Kleberg County, San Pat County. So, they’re not only fighting their own fires, they’re fighting others as well.”
According to Nueces County Fire Marshal Jose Olivares, typically, Nueces County bases the decision to implement a burn ban based on Texas A&M’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI).
Olivares said the county will usually implement a burn ban when the index reaches 500, but as of Tuesday, the county sat around 380. However, he said that is not the reason the county has not implemented a burn ban.
He said the weather last week, despite not hitting the typical KBDI number to implement a burn ban, indicated a burn ban should be in place.
“The way the weather has been, it has kind of created a perfect storm,” said Olivares.
He said if the weather had been that way a week earlier, there would be a burn ban in Nueces County, and he does want a burn ban in the county. However, one cannot be put in place without the county commissioners voting on it, and since there is no meeting this week, a burn ban cannot be put in place until next Wednesday, Feb. 23.
“If the temperature and the weather stays as it is, then we will implement a burn ban,” he said.
In the meantime, Olivares recommends residents avoid open burning activities until Feb. 26.
Guerra said since Feb. 5, ten fires his department has responded to have been caused by open burns that became out of control. He said people in rural areas can help out firefighters by keeping their yards clean.
“These neighborhoods, the grass is up to your waist. So, when the fire starts on your property, or jumps to your property, it’s just going to run like wildfire,” he said. “You see all your fires, and if you mow your grass occasionally, and you get it to a short length, the fires sometimes stop, it stops at your lawn, or it will jump onto your lawn and just start creeping. We’re on these calls, and you get to the properties where the grass is up to your waist, and these fires just start running, and that’s where you have these close calls with structures and vehicles, stuff like that.”
The following Coastal Bend counties currently have burn bans as of Feb. 15:
- Jim Hogg
- Jim Wells
The ones that don’t are:
- Live Oak
- San Patricio