9 East Texas counties under burn ban

Wildfire Danger

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Nine East Texas counties have now effected burn bans due to the dangerous dry conditions, Gregg County being the most recent.

An East Texas fire marshal says there are specific dangerous conditions most of us don’t know about that make a burn ban necessary.

Fire marshals say conditions are ripe in East Texas for dangerous wildfires.

“As we get into the late afternoon, our R-H factors get lower, and any type of fire becomes a potential hazard. Once your relative humidities get down below 30, your fire progressions grow tremendously,” says Gregg county fire marshal Mark Moore.

Important in issuing a burn ban is a measurement called KBDI. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index measures daily water balance, the moisture in soil, trees and plants.

An index of 800 means bone-dry conditions. Gregg County sits at 739.

“Look at your vegetations; once they dry out, they’re more susceptible to someone pulling off the road and their catalytic converters starting fires, accidental fires,” Moore says.

For first responders, it’s a tense time of waiting.

“We’re on our toes constantly when it gets to conditions that are this dry. Always wary of what’s going on. Anything can happen,” says Sabine Volunteer Fire Department Captain Kevin Bessey.

Moore says conditions are similar to 2011, when fires ravaged East Texas.

“The air is dry, the fuels are dry; it doesn’t take a lot for a fire to get out of hand,” says Moore.

Moore says he does not see any relief from the burn bans until East Texas gets a significant amount of rainfall.

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