During their January 24th meeting, the Mason County Commissioners Court voted to lift the burn ban which had been in effect in Mason County since November 4, 2010. Though conditions have not improved, several members of the court argued for lifting the ban due to the need for some landowners to conduct controlled burns.
Clyde Martin of the Mason County Volunteer Fire Department was in attendance and asked the court to renew the ban, which was set to automatically expire on February 4. He noted that the western and southwestern parts of the county were particularly at risk of wildfire, even though some parts in the central and eastern areas of the county had received some rainfall recently.
Commissioners Will Frey and Stanley Toeppich discussed the need of landowners to conduct burns before conditions began to change and decrease the effectiveness of such an agricultural tool. They both explained the need for adequate fuel, and drier conditions in order for the burn to accomplish its goals.
Commissioner Eldon Kothmann reminded the Court that his home had been in the path of a wildfire a few years ago and he worried that lifting the ban would lead to fires other than agricultural burns being lit, and those fires (trash fires, brush piles) were the ones that most concerned him.
There was some disagreement on the opinion of Judge Jerry Bearden who was not at the meeting. Commissioner Toeppich stated that he had discussed the matter with Judge Bearden on Thursday and felt the Judge was in favor of lifting the ban; while Commissioner Kothmann said he had also discussed the matter with Judge Bearden and gotten the indication that the ban would be renewed.
Commissioner Toeppich voted to lift the ban, Commissioner Frey seconded the motion. The vote was 2-1 to lift the ban, with Commissioner Wayne Hofmann, acting as Judge Pro Tem, casting no vote.
The Court acknowledged that recent fires in Gillespie and Menard Counties over the weekend showed that conditions for anything but supervised burning were still very risky. They advised anyone conducting any type of burn or outdoor acitivity with a high risk of combustion to be extremely cautious and to take all precations.