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Victoria County under burn ban; Calhoun enacts burn ban

By Sonny Long
July 1, 2013 at 2:01 a.m.
Updated July 2, 2013 at 2:02 a.m.


DROUGHT INDEX

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is used to help fire and other officials determine the need for burn bans or other actions to protect the public and property. As of Monday morning, the KBDI for Victoria County was 565.

The index ranges:

KBDI = 0 - 200: Soil moisture and large class fuel moistures are high and do not contribute much to fire intensity. KBDI = 200 - 400: Lower litter and duff layers are drying and beginning to contribute to fire intensity. KBDI = 400 - 600: Lower litter and duff layers actively contribute to fire intensity and will burn actively. KBDI = 600 - 800: Intense, deep burning fires with significant downwind spotting can be expected. Live fuels can also be expected to burn actively at these levels.

OTHER COURT ACTION

Also Monday, the Victoria County Commissioners Court:

Approved countywide voting at all polling places. No polling places will be closed. Elections administrator George Matthews had recommended the closing of 11 polling places, but commissioners voiced their concerns about how that would affect already low voter turnout. Approved an interlocal agreement with the Texas Conference of Urban Counties for the Indigent Defense TechShare Program. Approved a 2013 Museum Assessment Program Application for the Victoria County Heritage Department.

Calhoun County under burn ban

Calhoun County Commissioners Court on Monday enacted a burn ban on all outside burning, except household trash, in unincorporated areas of the county.The ban went into effect immediately. It will remain in effect for the next 90 days or unless lifted earlier by the court.Household trash may be burned in a closed or screened container.Violating the ban is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500.

Victoria County is now under a countywide burn ban.

On Monday, County Judge Don Pozzi ordered the ban due to the worsening dry conditions.

The ban went into effect immediately and is for 90 days unless revoked sooner.

"All of you are aware of the large grass fire in the DaCosta area Saturday that began, as I understand it, as a controlled burn," said Pozzi.

Pozzi and Danny Garcia, commissioner of Precinct 1 where the DaCosta fire occurred, commended the efforts of the volunteer firefighters, city fire department and citizens who helped get that fire under control and keep houses in that area safe.

The burn ban was recommended by County Fire Marshal Ron Pray.

The drought index reached 565 at 10 a.m. Monday, said Pray, within the next to highest range in the index.

"That's too high," said Pozzi. "Victoria County, in particular those portions that border Jackson, Calhoun and DeWitt counties are extremely dry."

Although the item was not on the commissioners court agenda Monday, Pozzi said he could call for the ban.

"We normally like to give the public a little more notice than this. But under the circumstances, the time has arrived. I don't believe we could or should wait any longer," said Pozzi.

Pray said the drought index number, more than any one fire or incident, dictates his recommending a burn ban to the commissioners court.

"We've had several fires this weekend, really dry conditions, record high temperatures and relatively low humidity," said Pray.

"The burn ban is issued when conditions warrant and we have a lot of dry, dead grass," Pray said. "It's a big concern because of the rate that fires spread.

"It eliminates any burning on the ground at all. Any burning has to be done in a barrel with a proper sized screen," said Pray.

Violation of the burn ban could result in a $500 fine.

The burn ban is put in place to protect the public, added the county fire marshal.

With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, fireworks also come into play when considering fire danger.

There is no ban of aerial fireworks in Victoria County, but Pray urges the public to use caution and common sense.

"We're going to open up Saxet Lake from 4 to 11 p.m. on the Fourth," Pray said. "That's the legal and safe place to pop fireworks."

Pray said residents inside the city limits of Victoria are prohibited from setting off fireworks due to a city ordinance.

"If you live in the county, you can pop fireworks on private property only with the permission of the landowner.

"Everyone needs to be very, very careful with fireworks this year. The conditions have deteriorated," Pray said.

"Anyone shooting aerial fireworks especially. They can fly through the air and continue to burn. We need to be very, very careful with that," he said.

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