Mineral Wells Area News

County Officials Take More Action Against Wildfires;Phase 2 Restrictions Enacted

County Officials Take More Action Against Wildfires;Phase 2 Restrictions Enacted
July 13
08:50 2022
County Commissioner’s Meeting 07/11/2022

By Amy Bearden

County Commissioner’s met in regular session this week to take further action to combat wildfires ravaging the county. Phase 2 Burn Ban Restrictions passed unanimously putting stricter rules into place regarding outdoor fire-related activities.

The Commissioner’s elevated the ban due to the severe drought, heat and average KBDI prevalent in most of the county. The Phase 2 Burn Ban contains additional prohibitions on discarding flammable materials, welding/grinding operations and other activities that may cause a fire.

Judge Shane Long told the court “75% of the county is averaging 600 to 700 KBDI” and said further action is necessary to protect the county.

The newly signed order heavily impacts welding activities. Some of the new emergency regulations include:

• All areas where welding, cutting and grinding operations must be performed will be free of vegetation for at least 25 feet in all directions.

• Surface around welding area must be wetted down.

• Wind speeds must be no more than 20 miles per hour while performing welding, cutting or grinding operations outside of barriers or enclosures.

• A dedicated fire watch person will attend each welder, cutter, grinder and any activity that causes a spark.

• A minimum of one water pressure fire extinguisher per fire watch person is required.

• Each site will have cellular telephone communications for emergency response.

• All welding, cutting and grinding operations may be performed in a total welding enclosure that is sufficiently high to control sparks and includes a fire retardant cover over the top.

• Wind speeds must not exceed 30 mph while utilizing an enclosure.

The order also prohibits the burning of brush piles, the use of outdoor sky lanterns and the improper disposal of cigarettes. Violation for not adhering to the order is a Class C misdemeanor. It does not prohibit the use of barbecue type of equipment used for outdoor cooking.

Emergency Service Director #1, Carolyn Land, told the court they are very concerned with the situation. The county had 14 fire fighting vehicles inoperable from fighting the massive Dempsey Fire that burned over 11,000 acres. She had no idea when they would be back in service.

“The ESD Board is extremely concerned at this point and we are stretched so thin, so any help you can give us with the burn ban would certainly be appreciated,” said Land.

Mistie Garland, Emergency Services Coordinator for the county told the court that $3.8 million in state resources were spent on the Dempsey Fire alone. Of that, $2.5 was spent on the air assets.

Garland also raised concerned that only three fire departments were currently fully equipped in the county and said they had 7 fire calls over the weekend and 15 fires burning across the state.

“We are very fortunate to have the Texas Forest Service stationed in Mineral Wells but who knows when their equipment could be needed elsewhere,” Garland said.

Please read the attached order for complete details. It can also be viewed on the county website. The entire meeting can be seen on our Facebook Live Stream of the meeting. https://fb.watch/ehqxhqEZvG/

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