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Personal experience illustrates need for burn ban

Aug. 30, 2013 at 3:30 a.m.


Editor, the Advocate:

The Aug. 26 story regarding burn bans hit me hard, as I have first-hand experience. Calhoun County didn't have a burn ban in effect in March because someone with green grass on their lawn deemed no burn ban was necessary. However, a lot of us with pasture land - where rains last year caused a big grass growth spurt and we couldn't get this baled - had hip-high grass that turned brown and died. Even when shredded, it stayed on the ground, as no livestock would touch it. On March 27, a friend called (I was in bed recovering from major surgery) to see if my pasture was the one on fire. He could see smoke in my direction. At the window, all I could see were flames and smoke.

Making the story short, a neighbor started a trash fire with the wind blowing about 20-25 mph, and all it took was one burning ember to blow across the fence, ignite the dead grass on my side and race down the fence line to my pasture. It continued to burn down the fence and across the pasture until the Six Mile VFD members were able to contain it. Net result was loss of 75 percent of my pasture and fence damage with burned cedar posts on three sides of it. It ultimately cost me $12,000 to get a new fence around all my property. The neighbor was not cited or fined because no burn ban was in effect. Shortly thereafter, I saw signs posted reinstating it.

Luckily, the wind was blowing from the southeast; had it been east or northeast, I might've lost my barns, garage and house. I was in no condition to stop the flames; however, the volunteers got marshaled and here quite rapidly. Both sides have merit. If officials have not decreed a "burn ban," people must use common sense to determine if it is safe; though some are so used to the government telling us what we can and cannot do they fail to use best judgment in dealing with everyday issues.

Joyce D. Schaefer, Port Lavaca

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