• December 20, 2014

To burn or not? Before you light up, make the call

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Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 4:30 am

GATESVILLE — Howdy, Copperas Cove. Here is what is going on downrange in Coryell County.

To burn or not to burn?

That is the question if you live in rural Coryell County and want to light up a pile of brush or cedar slash out back.

The answer, for now, is not to burn.

The Commissioners Court has issued an order restricting outdoor burning in unincorporated areas of the county.

The 90-day burn ban went into effect Monday, but could be lifted sooner if the weather changes. Texas weather is constantly changing.

Good burning conditions exist when the ground vegetation is wet, humidity is high and winds are calm. Dry brush and stiff breezes make burning dangerous.

As the current drought has been punctuated with spells of rain in recent months, the commissioners have been setting burn bans one week and suspending — or letting the county judge suspend — the ban the next week to allow landowners to burn brush piles when conditions are right.

During the time when a ban is lifted and burning is allowed, county officials want folks to call the sheriff before setting a controlled fire.

If law enforcement and firefighters around the county know where and when a controlled fire is burning, they won’t have to waste their time and our tax money driving around checking out false alarms.

False fire reports have become a big nuisance due to the popularity of cellular phones, Fire Chief Billy Vaden told commissioners last week.

Most calls reporting outdoor burning come not from county residents, Vaden said, but from folks passing through who see smoke along the road, grab their cell phones and punch 911.

If the landowner doing the burning has checked in with the sheriff, the dispatcher knows whether or not a fire truck needs to roll. Without that knowledge, deputies and firefighters are obliged to chase every puff of smoke.

With the exception of Copperas Cove, all fire departments in the county are manned by volunteers.

These firefighters are ready and able to leave their home or workplace to battle a blaze that threatens lives and property. They should not have to turn out to inspect every controlled brush fire.

How to know whether a burn ban is in effect? Go to the county website coryellcounty.org or call your county commissioner (his phone number is on the website).

If you want to burn brush or trash outdoors, your best bet is to call the Coryell County Sheriff at 254-865-7201. If there is a ban, they will tell you not to burn. If burning is allowed, tell them where and when you plan to burn.

Make the call before you light up.

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