Grass fire danger rampant in county, state
By LPR Staff
Dangerous conditions which prompted County Judge H.T. Wright to declare a state of emergency in Caldwell County last Wednesday worsened through the weekend, resulting in the accidental loss of a Uhland area home on Saturday.
According to County Fire Marshal Jeff Wright, what began as a rural resident burning trash in her
trash barrel ended in disaster after an item in the barrel sparked, igniting the surrounding grass in Laidley Acres Subdivision. The fast-moving fire quickly destroyed seven acres of land, destroying one home and damaging three others.
“It was purely accidental,” said Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Parker. “[The resident] decided to go out and burn her trash in her barrel, and it “popped” and got away from her. The short grass burned fast, and the wind kept it moving, and it wound up burning that house to the ground.”
In addition, the fire damaged one outbuilding and destroyed another.
Parker said the other two homes were saved only because the fire was kept from burning beneath them. It did, however, melt the underpinning from the manufactured homes.
Volunteer fire departments, paramedics and emergency management services from both Hays and Caldwell Counties were called to the scene to help battle the blaze, and no one was seriously injured, Parker said.
The incident punctuates an extremely dangerous situation statewide. Across the state, more than 75 wildfires have burned nearly 70,000 acres and destroyed at least 60 homes, according to a letter sent by Governor Rick Perry to President George W. Bush on Monday. The letter asked the President to issue a Presidential Disaster Declaration, making the state eligible for financial assistance from the Federal Government.
Perry issued a proclamation declaring 182 Texas counties disaster areas on Wednesday.
“Texas is thankful to the brave men and women from fire departments across the state who are battling these fires on the front lines,” Perry said. “As wildfires continue to rage across our state, Texas is reaching its capacity to respond to these emergencies and is in need of federal assistance.”
As a series of cool fronts continue to move across the state, bringing further low humidity and high winds, Perry reminded Texans that the extremely dry conditions create a substantial risk for wildfires.
“I urge all Texans to continue to exercise great caution at this time, and observe burn bans and other warnings to ensure the safety of themselves and their families,” he said.
Caldwell County remains under an outdoor burning ban, which was put into effect when Wright issued the Emergency Order on Wednesday. Under the ban, it is a Class C Misdemeanor, enforceable by a fine of up to $500, to burn material outdoors outside of an enclosure, or in an enclosure that is not designed to contain all sparks. Even when engaging in legal burning, residents are reminded to exercise extreme caution and take safety measures, including keeping water or a fire extinguisher nearby, never burning during high winds or on “Red Flag Days” and never leaving fires unattended.
For further information or to report an illegal or questionable burn, contact the Caldwell County Fire Marshal”s Office at (512) 398-1822 or the Caldwell County Sheriff”s Department at (512) 398-6777.