The TCEQ Put a Halt on Buffalo Gap's "Fire Wise" Status

Published 04/30 2014 08:32PM

Updated 04/30 2014 08:35PM

Some people who live in Buffalo Gap were evacuated during the wildfire, even though Buffalo Gap is designated as a  "Fire Wise Community".

In order to get that designation, the people in town had to take certain steps along with help from the city of Buffalo Gap. It was recently brought to a halt because of red tape from the TCEQ or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

"Fire Wise is a national program through the National Fire Protection Association," says Nick Harrison, a Fire Wise Coordinator with the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Harrison explained to Big Country Homepage what the citizens of Buffalo Gap do in order to be considered Fire Wise. "They have done an overview assessment of their community to see where they have fire hazards. They have come up with a long range fire wise plan, where at a minimum they clean out at least 30 feet from their house. They trim up low limbs. They trim back off the roof, they clean out their gutters, anywhere, where embers could fall and set a fire. Or, if we had a major wildfire coming towards them, that home would be defensible."

For a while, the town of Buffalo Gap was able to dispose of their debris at a location near the Buffalo Gap flea market. They did burn debris a couple of times but the TCEQ put a stop to it saying it was illegal. It wasn't the fact that they were burning debris, and it wasn't even a matter of where they were burning it. It was all a matter of who owned the property.

An e-mailed statement from the TCEQ said, "Statewide burn rules do not allow debris disposal burning on property not owned by the city."

This leaves the town of Buffalo Gap looking for a property to maintain their Fire Wise status, and more importantly maintaining that defensible space between their homes and potential disaster.

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