Travis County is under a burn ban for the first time this summer.
Fire Marshal Hershel Lee says the area has been getting drier over the past few months and yesterday’s rain just wasn’t enough to make a significant different in the soil moisture.
“There’s very little moisture in the top eight inches of soil for plants to grow so the plants have lost their fuel moisture and are more susceptible to fire starting easily," Lee said. "With all of these factors taken into consideration, long-term forecast of 10 to 12 days of 100 degree weather, we felt it was time to implement a burn ban.”
Lee acknowledges that conditions have been generally better this summer than in recent years, but says August is August, even in a good year.
“The fire danger has not been as great this summer because of the lower temperatures and added rain," Lee said. "We are pretty near our average rainfall right now. The drought has weakened, but in Central Texas this time of year it just gets dry, so we want to be safe rather than sorry.”
Outdoor burning is not allowed in unincorporated areas of Travis County until the ban is lifted. Right now, the ban is scheduled to be in place until September 10.
Travis County Commissioners could vote to left the ban before then, but given the kind of weather the area typically gets during those weeks, the ban may be more likely to be extended.