Some Firefighters Want Burn Bans Issued Quicker - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

08/23/06 - Angelina County

Some Firefighters Want Burn Bans Issued Quicker

by Ramonica R. Jones

Hudson Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Ron Cole said, "Just because we got a little rain doesn't bring everything back to life, so you've got to be real careful and cautious because even though there's a little water on top of the ground, [vegetation will] still burn pretty fast."

And it did during Monday's woods fire in northern Angelina County. The fire quickly burned out of control. It all started with a small controlled burn started by the land owner. The area had not seen much rain in months, but there was not a burn ban in place.

County Judge Joe Berry said, "Most of our information [comes] from Texas Forest Service and some from volunteer fire departments on their fire activity - how many fires they're reacting to - but our main source of information for burning bans comes from Texas Forest Service."

And that makes it hard on East Texas fire departments, especially those with few resources.

Chief Cole said, "There's a lot of times we wish there was a burn ban on, because people just get reckless and they think 'well, we can burn this', and the wind gets up and it just gets away from you."

County leaders know weather conditions are not ideal for burning, but they have to consider all East Texans before issuing a burn ban.

"It does affect a lot of people in protecting their property, true, but also you have to realize that there's contractors that's clearing land or doing site work that use fire as a tool," Judge Berry said.

Fire departments can go to their county commissioners if they believe a burn ban should be in place, but ultimately it's up to the county judge to make that decision.

Angelina County is not under a burn ban at this time, but county commissioners are expected to put one in place if it doesn't rain over the next few days.

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