Robertson County Enacts Burn Ban For First Time In 2014

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ROBERTSON COUNTY, Texas - Robertson County has enacted a burn ban for the first time this year with growing concerns about the dry weather and the increasing fire danger.

News 3 looks at the reasons for the latest burn ban and also visited with the Texas A&M Forest Service about the fire danger outlook this fall.

The heat is on and that comes as no surprise in the final weeks of a Texas summer.

But this week Robertson County Commissioners enacted a burn ban, one of 84 counties in the state to do so.

"Doesn't mean you can't burn but you just need to contact us. We look at it. We give our preferences to agriculture and industry because there’s a lot of money involved there helping those folks out and we’ll issue a permit if conditions are safe enough," said Billy Huggins, a career firefighter in Bryan and the Emergency Management Coordinator for Robertson County.

All the firefighters in Robertson County are volunteers.

"It's difficult for them to take off work to respond to a fire that didn't have to happen in the first place, so as county government if we can help by putting these burn bans on when they need to try to limit the chance of fire then we'll do so and help these folks out some," he said.

They look at the burn ban at every commissioners court meeting and base that decision on the drought index from the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Right now they are in orange on the map, the second from the highest.

"This is the first time in 2014 that Robertson County has had to go on a burn ban. Years past we've had to deal with a lot of drought issues. This summer we've been real blessed with rain but the last several weeks our rain has dropped off," said Billy Huggins.

Thomas Spencer with the Texas A&M Forest Service says while the fall and winter outlook look good for being wetter than normal, now is peak time for fire season.

"It's the hottest and the driest that it typically gets for this time of year and so you're starting to see some of the grasses taking on that little bit of the yellow tinge out there, probably fire occurrence is starting to pickup," said Spencer who is the Predictive Services department head.

For now the burn ban will stand in Robertson County, until it gets some rain relief.

Other counties in our area that are currently under a burn ban include Falls, Limestone, Austin and Waller Counties.

The latest information from the Texas A&M Forest Service says all of the Brazos Valley including Bryan- College Station is under a moderate risk of wildfire danger.