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Bexar County issues burn ban – effective immediately – due to severe drought

The ban goes into effect Tuesday, and violators face a potential misdemeanor charge.

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas — In the last few weeks, Bexar County firefighters have gone from batting around 30 fires a week to more than 100. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the Bexar County Fire Marshal took the level of urgency surrounding fire dangers a step further by requesting that a burn ban be put in place for the county. Commissioners quickly approved it. 

"Put up that burn ban. Get the PIO (public information officer), tell the public," Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai said.

The burn ban goes into effect immediately, according to Bexar County spokesperson Thomas Peine.

Fire Marshal Chris Lopez said homeowners are now prohibited from burning on their property completely if they have an available trash service. If they don't have a trash service, they can only burn trash or brush in a closed burn barrel with a metal cover. 

Lopez said there are some exceptions if a person is burning on a property with an agriculture exemption, so long as they're burning for agricultural purposes. He told commissioners many of the current fires they are seeing were originally created by property owners before they got out of control.  

"The majority of them are people who are burning outdoor trash and are not doing that in a safe matter," he said. "We continue to put out the message that if you are going to burn and you don't have a trash service, that you use a barrel with a piece of metal over that so that no embers come out of that."

Lopez told KENS 5 the county also needs people to be careful not to start accidental fires. 

"If they are smokers, please don't dispose of cigarettes going down the road. If you have a truck or trailer, make sure that your safety chains are up and they are not dragging the ground. We've seen roadside fires start from chains dragging."

He said even bad brake pads can create sparks and start fires. 

You can see day-to-day drought conditions measured by the Keetch-Byram Drought Index here. The index measures drought conditions on a scale of 0 to 800. Bexar County was averaging 692 as of Tuesday, which was well over the 575 rating required to request a burn ban. 

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