Off again, on again

County Judge Mitchell Davenport explained his dropping the burn ban only to reinstate it 3 days later at a meeting of the commissioners court Thursday morning.

Davenport lifted the restriction on outdoor burning Thursday, March 8 which he had ordered Jan. 30. He reinstated the burn ban Sunday with a message through the county’s iInfo program.

“Due to information regarding fuel availability (dead grasses and underbrush) and long-term predictions, it was deemed best to take action,” the message read. “The initial order restricts against all burning. The order likely to be entered on Thursday will allow some actions but with some restrictions which is our ordinary order in such circumstances. We will lift this order when circumstances permit.”

Davenport said he spoke with Jack County Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Hefner prior to lifting the ban and said he thought he had spoken to the fire chiefs.

“That was my intention,” he said. 

Four fires on Friday, three off of Pump Station Road and one which threatened several homes on US Highway 380 West, prompted fire officials to contact county elected officials.

The judge said looking at the Keech-Byrum Drought Index, an index which determines wildfire potential, and the Texas Forest Service’s fire danger projection when he lifted the ban showed Jack County at the lower (less danger) end of those scales.

But he said Thursday, the county fire chief told him Jack County is at greater fire risk now than it was when the ban was instated Jan. 30. Part of that greater risk involves the soggy off-road conditions creating more difficulty for firefighters to get to and fight wildfires. 

“They’re risking lives and equipment if they get off the road and get stuck,” Davenport said.

The still heavy fuel loads of tall dry grass and brush remain though some greening has occurred in recent weeks.

Jacksboro Fire Chief Jeremy Jennings said despite the greening that has occurred from recent rains, there is still a large amount of fire fuel available throughout the county. He said he believes the fire danger will decrease in the next 4 to 5 weeks.

Davenport lifted the restriction on outdoor burning Thursday, March 8 which he had ordered Jan. 30 and was ratified by the commissioners court Feb. 2.

Davenport reinstated the burn ban Sunday with a message through the county’s iInfo program.

This article will be updated with the text of the ban once it is obtained.

Update March 16, 2018 8:23 a.m.

ORDER RESTRICTING OUTDOOR BURNING

WHEREAS, the Texas Forest Service has determined that drought conditions exist within the County;

WHEREAS, the Commissioners Court has also determined that circumstances present in all or part of the unincorporated area of the county create a public safety hazard that would be exacerbated by outdoor burning;

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED by the Commissioners' Court of Jack County that all outdoor burning in Jack County for 90 days from the date of adoption of this order, is prohibited unless the restrictions are terminated earlier based on a determination made by the Texas Forest Service or this Court.

This Order is adopted pursuant to V.T.C.A. Local Government Code §352.081 and other applicable statutes.

This Order does not prohibit outdoor burning activities:

(1) related to public health and safety that are authorized by the Texas Natural Resource

Conservation Commission for:

(A) firefighter training;

(B) public utility, natural gas pipeline, or mining operations; or

(C) planting or harvesting of agriculture crops; or

(2) that are conducted by a prescribed bum manager certified under Section 153.048,

Natural Resources Code, and meet the standards of Section 153.047, Natural Resources Code.

Fort Richardson State Historical Park is granted an exemption from this order on the following conditions:

(1) All bonfires are prohibited;

(2) All campfires are prohibited except those in contained in metal fire rings and none are permitted if winds are or are predicted at 20 mph or greater or relative humidity is less than 30%.

(3) No fire allowed under this exemption shall be left unattended;

( 4) Any fire allowed under this exemption shall be attended with appropriate fire safety equipment such as a shovel and water hose or bucket;

(5) Charcoal fires will be allowed in fire rings or metal cook boxes; and,

(6) Charcoal used in said fires shall be of the type which is manufactured to contain sufficient lighting fluid to ignite the charcoal.

Welding is allowed by commercial/professional welders under the following guidelines only:

(1) A spotter is required for each welder, each cutter, each grinder, and for any activity that causes or may cause a spark.

(2) A perimeter around the welding area shall be established of a radius of 25 feet and clear of vegetation, if possible, and kept wet. The welding perimeter must be three times the height of the actual welding. Example: if the welding is occurring ten feet off the ground, a perimeter of thirty (30) feet radium must be protected.

(3) A minimum of 100 gallons ofwater must be available on site.

( 4) A minimum of one (I) water pressure fire extinguisher per spotter is required.

(5) If the perimeter cannot be cleared of vegetation, proper precautionary measures must be taken (Example: protecting brush, etc, by utilizing fire resistant tarps).

(6) Welding in an enclosed area or underground is acceptable.

(7) No welding is permitted if winds are 20 mph or greater or relative humidity is less than 30%.

(8) Welder or Company conducting welding operations must prior to activities file with the Jack County Sheriff's Office proof of effective liability insurance or be bonded in an amount of at least $300,000.

(9) Prior to ANY welding activity, a phone call shall be placed by the welder or company conducting welding operations to the Jack County Sheriff's department relaying the location of the project, cell phone for contact person, name of party responsible, and name of welder.

In accordance with V.T.C.A. Local Government Code §240.906(h), a violation of this Order is a

Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00.

The County Judge may rescind this Order upon a determination that the circumstances that

required the Order no longer exist

ADOPTED this 15th day of March, 2018.

Jacksboro Newspapers

212 N. Church
PO Drawer 70
Jacksboro, Texas 76458

Phone: (940) 567-2616
FAX: (940) 567-2071