In light of recent rainstorms, Travis County Fire Marshal Hershel Lee removed the ban on outdoor burning in unincorporated areas of the county July 11. The ban has been in place since June 26.
Travis County measures moisture using the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, a scale in which zero represents total saturation and 800 represents a complete lack of moisture.
Lee said that the county's average drought index was approaching 600 prior to the storms. Now the average is 390. Some areas have readings that are "about as close as you can get to being underwater," Lee said.
"I lifted the ban to give people an opportunity, if they were clearing brush and debris, to be able to get rid of it," he said. "The forecast for the next few days will be high humidity and low winds. If there is an ideal time for outdoor burning, this is it."
He noted that the fire marshal's office does not record rainfall measurements, but rather the rains' effects.
"Some areas over in eastern Travis County got 10 inches of rain [from the storms], but most of it ran off," he said. "If those areas got 3 inches over a four-day period, that would make more of a difference."
In a statement, the fire marshal's office reminded residents to always have a way to extinguish fires handy, to watch fires at all times and not to burn during windy conditions.
The statement said that the Travis County Commissioners Court will reassess drought conditions and the need for a ban during its July 17 meeting.
For more information, visit the Travis County Fire Marshal's Office website.