East Texas officials say more rain needed before burn bans can end

East Texas officials say more rain needed before burn bans can end
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 1:34 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2023 at 8:09 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - All but two East Texas counties remain under a burn ban, as fire danger continues to be high.

Despite the rain this week, bans are not expected to be lifted anytime soon.

Cloudy skies and rain over the past two days have been a welcome relief from the heat, but fire marshals say it’s not nearly enough to lift burn bans.

“These rains that were getting, the soil is so dry that it absorbs all that moisture up and it doesn’t have time to get our fuels back to a non-critical state,” says Gregg County Fire Marshal Mark Moore.

The fire risk remains high because of the KBDI index.

“Today we’re at 708. Anything that’s above 625 is critical fire weather,” Moore says.

Though mostly contained, fires continue to burn in counties like Walker and Jasper, with thousands of acres lost.

“The moisture we’ve received has been nice but it’s really not enough to call this fire season over just yet,” says Texas A&M forest service regional fire coordinator Matt Burnett.

Enormous manpower and equipment have been used by local fire departments, the Texas A&M forest service, and out of state firefighters.

“We still have 386 out of state personnel, 142 pieces of equipment from out of state still here. Things like bulldozers, fire engines, crews. We’ll continue to keep those resources here as long as there’s a risk,” says Andy McCrady of the Texas A&M forest service in Nacogdoches.

With more rain today, and more expected, the question is how soon will the burn bans across East Texas be lifted.

Burn bans are not expected to be lifted until the counties get a sustained saturating rain.

“These fuels that are out there are still pretty dry; they’re going to need more than just a half inch of rain to mitigate that risk,” McCrady says.

Much of the out of state help has now gone back to their respective states, but fire resource center’s remain staffed in case of more wildfires.