BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Before the Hidden Pines Fire broke out in Bastrop County on Oct. 13, authorities had already handed out 23 citations to people violating the burn ban. The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office says since the fire, they’ve handed out another 23 citations and 1 warning.
One Cedar Creek woman, Patricia Rivera-Garcia, 34 was arrested on Oct. 18 because she refused to sign her burn ban citation.
But the number of people violating the burn ban occurred throughout the months leading up to October. In August, BCSO issued 26 burn ban citations and in September they issued 25.
On Monday, Bastrop County decided to lift the county’s burn ban—after more than 6 inches of rain fell in the area.
Now that it is lifted some homeowners in Smithville hope that people adhere to the burn rules in the County. Like Debbie King who was a victim of the Hidden Pines Fire.
“Fires are scary,” King says.
Although Debbie King’s home is standing her charred backyard tells the tale of the hidden pines fire. She says The last thing county officials should be doing is lifting the burn ban.
“Maybe at some point it might be acceptable but at this point I am hoping there is another option,” King says.
On the other side, some homeowners say lifting the burn ban is well overdue. Although Bridgette Padgett is sympathetic to those who lost their homes says she needs to burn.
“This property probably has not been cleaned up since the last fire,” Padgett shares.
Bridgette tells me these brush piles have sat on her 40 acres of property for two years. Given our recent weather, she says they’re only getting bigger.
“Cutting down the dead trees that died in the last fire and we lost trees in the Spring for the flooding,” Padgett says.
Since the burn ban lift has left mixed reviews we spoke with Judge Paul Pape. Judge Paul Pape tells us lifting the burn ban won’t cause another wildfire to start but he says it might prevent one.
“We need to be able to dispose of those things I think we found out in this fire that if you don’t do something with them they can be fuel for the fire,” Pape says.
Bastrop’s lifting of its burn ban comes with some very specific conditions:
- People are only allowed to burn woodland debris and they need to let the county know first.
- Someone needs to watch the fire the entire time
- Have water readily available
- Call the county first at 512-549-5100 and advise dispatchers of the burn location
- Be aware of the wind speed and direction
All things Debbie hopes people will follow this time around.
“It’s not just you. If something goes wrong it is affecting hundreds of people,” King says.