Burn ban enacted in Victoria County
Sept. 10, 2012 at 4:10 a.m.
Updated Sept. 11, 2012 at 4:11 a.m.
• Approved a $73,550 transfer from the non departmental capital improvement line, allocating $50,000 for the facade repairs to the courthouse annex and $20,000 for County Court at Law No. 2 indigent representation;
• Approved $1.3 million in interim vendor payments to Citizens Medical Center;
• Held first public hearing on the proposed budget and tax rate, no one gave public comment.
A burn ban is in effect in unincorporated areas of Victoria County.
The commissioners court unanimously approved enacting the ban Monday on the recommendation of Fire Marshal Ron Pray.
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index rating system, which runs from 0 to 800 indicating moisture and drought conditions, showed Victoria County at 617, according to reports by Texas A&M University released Monday.
While the National Weather Service forecasts a 20 and 30 percent chance of rain later in the week, it may not be enough to lift the ban.
Pray said at 500, the county starts looking at whether to implement a ban.
"The whole county is pretty dry, we have some areas of the county as high as 700," he said. "If we don't get some significant rain in the next couple of weeks, we'll be under a burn ban for a while."
Illegal burning is a class C misdemeanor, punishable with a $600 fine, Pray said.
"It's very expensive," he said. "That is one of the highest class C misdemeanors."
He said the city already has an ordinance against open burning within city limits.
Commissioner Gary Burns made the motion to pass the ordinance and Commissioner Clint Ives seconded it.
"I think we need to go off his (Pray's) recommendation," Burns said.
"When you're at 617, you start getting fires that are hard to control," Pray said.
Over the weekend, firefighters responded to several calls where people lost control of fires, he said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lists summer 2012 as the third hottest since it started keeping record in 1895.
County Judge Don Pozzi said there is no "magic number" to say when the ban will be lifted.
"I am not going to get into weather forecasting," Pozzi said. "It would need to be considerably below 600."
He said no one on the court likes issuing a burn ban order.
"We don't do this for grins, we do this for the health and safety of our citizens," he said.