Several Central Texas counties announce burn bans

Amid triple digit heat, several counties in Central Texas announced burn bans this week, including Hays, Burnet, and Llano counties. 

Travis and Williamson counties followed suit Tuesday, July 18.

Hays County announced a burn ban during their Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday at the request of their Fire Marshal. Counties look at a drought index to make that decision.

"Looking at the numbers over the last several weeks, our points have been up ticking anywhere from 10 to 20 points per day. With that, we're not far away from reaching critical numbers that we've seen in the past. Fire departments have been responding increasingly over this last week. With that I ask for a burn ban order for 90 days," Hays County Fire Marshal Mark Wobus said.

Right now, the fire danger in Hutto is at the "moderate" level, but it is expected to go to "high" in the next couple of days.

"That's based off of the fuel moisture, weather conditions like the wind and the humidity. Right now, we're staying in the moderate because the humidity's still been up a little bit," Battalion Chief Michael Wofford with Hutto Fire Rescue said.

A graphic of Central Texas counties that have enacted burn bans as of July 18, 2023.

Wofford says the moisture level is expected to drop. 

"We're going to start seeing a big increase in the wildfires with the moisture drying out with the heat. And as we get farther into the summer, the humidity drops a lot more often into the twenties instead of the thirties," he said.

Firefighters are also having to adapt to the heat, staying hydrated, working out in the morning, and rotating crews more often.

Because there's so much fuel on the ground, crews recommend you keep your lawns cut and watered, and be careful about driving into tall grass, it could be hot enough to set a grass fire. 

"All the rain we had this spring, we had quite a bit of a wet season, and that made the grass grow a lot. And now all that grass is drying out," Wofford said. 

If you are in a place without a burn ban and are approved to burn, always have a water source. Keep an eye on barbecue pits and grills, don't throw out cigarette butts, and make sure chains aren't dragging when you drive.