Disaster declaration to provide aid in Bell County amid wildfire danger

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 5:47 PM CDT
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - Bell County Judge David Blackburn on Monday issued a disaster declaration for the county amid wildfires that plagued the area in recent weeks and have the potential to continue doing so as conditions remain dry.

“It helps leverage resources form the state and helps us with reimbursement for expenses,” Blackburn explained.

He said calls for wildfires have been constant. “We have wildfires and we get reports of wildfires on a regular basis.”

Across the state, more than 400,000 acres have burned due to wildfires, including 348,403 acres in the month of March alone in 978 different wildfires across Texas.

Governor Greg Abbott added Bell County to his state wide disaster declaration on April 1, leading Blackburn to issue his own declaration specific to Bell County.

“It does open up the opportunity for both paid and volunteer fire departments to seek reimbursement for the expenses they incur especially when they’re responding to a fire under mutual aid where another jurisdiction has called for assistance and they respond to that,” Blackburn explained.

Several departments responded to fires in the Moffat area the weekend of March 26th, several even from neighboring counties.

Fire departments can work with the county to see what aid or reimbursement would apply within the declaration.

The Bell County Commissioners Court also voted this week to extend the county burn ban through April 25, as recent rain was not enough to lift the continued threat for wildfires.

“As we’ve seen across the county, across the region really across the state, because of the dry conditions it doesn’t take very much at all for a fire to start,” Blackburn said. “I fully anticipate unless we get substantial rain between now and April 25 that burn ban will continue.”

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