More South Plains Counties Place Burn Bans in Effect

LUBBOCK, TX - Multiple counties on the South Plains are under burn bans, as dry conditions continue.

Terry County Commissioners placed a burn ban into effect on Monday for 90 days. The exception to that ban included the preservation of crops.

A burn ban was also placed for Hockley County on March 6, according to Judge Sharla Baldridge.

Those two join Bailey, Cochran, Crosby, Garza, Lamb, Swisher, and Yoakum Counties, among others in the region. Much of the panhandle was marked "red" due to dangerous fire conditions.

Lynn County Judge Mike Braddock said there was not enough pasture threatened to enact a ban, for now.

"We normally don't unless it's absolutely necessary," Braddock said.

Braddock explained there were "enough open areas between ranches and pastures" to avoid a ban, though county commissioners discuss the possibility on the agenda every two weeks.

Richard Gray, Assistant Chief and Regional Fire Coordinator for Texas A&M Forest Service said, "Our predictive services group works with our state office and they provide drop monitoring services to our counties using an index."

"At our Wolfforth office, we have a full task force, so that's four dozers and two engines and staffing and we are here to supplement and support local fire officials and local fire departments at their request," Gray stated.

Floyd County Judge Marty Lucke also keeps a watchful eye on drought conditions. He said because of the drought index, the commissioners determined there was not an immediate need to put a ban in place.

"The drought index is still low enough," he mentioned, adding that the county has "enough moisture."

"Fire departments (in Floyd County) did not have to answer as many calls," Lucke said.

David Hipolito, Special Projects Coordinator for Hale County, is responsible for making a recommendation to county officials on whether or not to enact a burn ban. So far, he has not felt the need this year.

"Keeping an eye on it," Hipolito said.

"The burn bans are at the discretion of the county," Gray said. "But it is comforting when we know that the general public is aware that we are getting increased fire danger as counties set those burn bans. So, again it is a county choice, but it is a good public education to our citizens."

Officials in Gaines County said a local expert who is also a volunteer firefighter, assists the county in determining the need for a burn ban. Officials said that person had not come forward this year with a recommendation.

"We don't have elevated fire danger everyday, but when we get high winds and low humidity they need to pay attention to that and also pay attention to your local fire officials," Gray added.

For additional information about burn bans in Texas, click here.

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