Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Fire is powerful force, deserves respect
Fire is a powerful force in nature. Humans have learned to harness the heat and power of fire, but over the years, it has become abundantly clear that it can never be fully tamed or contained.
On Feb. 1, a 400-acre controlled burn at Diebel Ranch on Salem Road drew a lot of attention in Victoria. Residents worried a grassfire was burning out of control, similar to the wildfires in Bastrop in September 2011. However, this was not the case. According to Victoria County Fire Marshal Ron Pray, the ranch owners were careful to follow the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's guidelines for outdoor burning, including keeping the fire at least 300 feet from residences and burning when the wind blows away from major population centers. This burn was carried out safely, and we thank the property owners for their efforts to maintain their ranch while keeping their neighbors safe.
The wide attention and concerns raised by the community on social media and other platforms during this burn reminds us that, while Victoria County is not under a burn ban, we do live in an agriculture-heavy area where property owners routinely clear brush and have controlled burns to dispose of excess foliage and trash. Victoria has experienced a drier-than-normal year. A fire can easily burn out of control, regardless of a county's burn ban status. So we encourage our readers to always take steps to prevent a fire disaster.
When burning, always burn a minimum of 50 feet from any structure. Use a metal barrel covered by a metal screen with holes no larger than 5/8 inch in Victoria County. Clear the area around the barrel down to soil or gravel, according to the Victoria County website. Never leave a fire unattended and make sure you have an ample water supply available. A small bucket will not put out a barrel full of burning trash. Do not use gasoline to start the fire and make sure you report any controlled burns to the fire marshal's office before burning. Keep a phone nearby. If the burn gets out of control, you can easily call 911, and if others see the smoke from your fire and are concerned, the fire department may call to verify your fire is still under control.
We hope our readers and all property owners will keep these tips in mind as they prepare to conduct controlled burns. Take a few moments to prepare some precautions, and you could prevent a disaster for you and your neighbors.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.