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Burn ban, disaster declaration issued for Bastrop County following wildfire

The burn ban goes into effect Saturday morning.

BASTROP, Texas — Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape issued in emergency burn ban and disaster declaration Friday in response to the ongoing dry weather conditions.

The ban goes into effect the morning of Jan. 22 and prohibits outdoor burning in hopes of mitigating the public safety hazard posed by wildfires as dry weather continues. 

A violation of the order occurs when a person lights any combustible or vegetative material outside of an enclosure that is supposed to contain flames or sparks. Violators could receive a fine of up to $500. 

Pape also issued a disaster declaration along with the ban, based on the threat of large wildfires happening in the county. 

The county judge issued the two documents days after a prescribed burn erupted into a wildfire and damaged more than 800 acres in the county. The fire started Tuesday morning as officials conducted a prescribed burn on 150 acres of land around the state park, but the fire quickly spread into the surrounding area as the day continued. Authorities believe the prescribed burn got out of hand when embers escaped the burn boundaries, but officials add that further investigation is needed to determine the cause.

Pape said Friday that he is asking the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the agency which conducted the burn, for a full accounting of "what happened, what went wrong, what mistakes were made, what has been learned, and how what has been learned will be used to better protect the lives and property of our residents in the future." 

Evacuations forced around 250 families from their homes as the fire raged on and fire crews from around the state descended upon the county to help battle the flames. All evacuated residents were allowed to return as of Thursday. No injuries or structure damage has been reported as of Friday evening and Pape said the fire was "under control and largely contained." 


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