Advocate editorial board opinion: Be prepared for fires; conserve water

By the Advocate Editorial Board
April 25, 2011 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated April 24, 2011 at 11:25 p.m.

We have dry conditions and have had for some time now. So it was no surprise that the Victoria County Commissioners Court enacted a burn ban at the behest of the county's fire marshal, Ron Pray, on Monday.

Fire running rampant is part of the problem during windy, dry days, but our parched conditions also are challenging us to conserve water.

Already, Lynn Short, the city's director of public works, is asking for voluntary water conservation. The city's draw from the Guadalupe River is down to 10 percent of the river's water flow and dropping. The city soon may have to stop drawing water from the river and depend on its 10 reservoirs.

Once the reservoirs are at 50 percent, mandatory water conservation measures will be implemented. We urge all to practice conserving water voluntarily at this point. Water your yard in the evening and preferably when the wind isn't blowing, forget about that car wash and find other ways to reuse your water (for example, use dishwater for watering plants).

To prevent wildfires, Pray said the fine for any kind of burning under the ban, including controlled burns or pasture burns, a Class C misdemeanor, would be a total of $600. The fine is $500 and the court fee is $100.

"This is a justice of the peace agreed upon standard fine," Pray said. "It is sill up to the justice of the peace to decide."

Pray said there is one exception. The only burning allowed would be household garbage in a 30-55 gallon drum. A screen for the top of the drum must have holes five-eighths of an inch or less.

But he said whoever burns is responsible for watching the burn.

"If embers go next door and cause damage, the burner is responsible," he said. "Watch the fire at all times, and have something there to extinguish it with."

We urge all to be ever watchful for fires and follow the rules of the burn ban. You can find the rules in the local government code, Chapter 352.

"We're expected this week to have days with high winds and even red flag days (highly potential days for fires). Follow the rules: Watching your burn means not being inside watching TV," Pray said.

We know fires can get out of control in seconds. Let's be prepared, and follow Pray's advice.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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