Recent rain raises spirits
By LPR Staff
Inspired by a weather system that brought cool temperatures and rain to Caldwell County late last week, Caldwell County Judge HT Wright – with the support of the other county commissioners, chose to temporarily lift the outdoor burning ban that has been in place since early summer.
Area residents took full advantage of
the ban’s being lifted, spending the weekend burning brush and trash that has gone otherwise neglected for months.
According to the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department, nearly 300 residents called while the ban was lifted, asking to start “controlled burns.”
During that same period of time, the department received 10 calls reporting either unknown fires, controlled burns gone out of control, or people burning too close to homes.
“It’s still very dangerous out there,” Caldwell County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Parker said on Monday. “The amount of rain we had, it didn’t break the drought.”
Parker suggested the severity of the drought conditions would likely take extended, significant rainfall to break and reminded the community that other dangers exist when brush fires erupt while surface conditions are wet.
“When it’s muddy, the brush trucks can get stuck trying to fight the fires, and
then there’s another danger,” he said.
In Lockhart, rains up to two inches were reported as a result of last week’s front, but Precinct 2 Commissioner Charles Bullock noted other areas had received less rain.
Though they had originally intended to reinstate the ban on Wednesday morning, the Caldwell County Commissioners decided on Tuesday to reinstate the ban. That decision may have been the result of the high, if pleasant, winds and sunny spring climate that returned to Caldwell County on Tuesday.
By Wednesday morning, the Texas Forest Service’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index showed Caldwell County in a 500 – 700 danger range, indicating strong to serious danger conditions for brush fires.
In addition to burning dangers, water conservation measures remain in place in Caldwell County.
The City of Lockhart, for instance, reminds customers that voluntary water conservation rules enacted in June 2008 remain in effect. Under those restrictions, commercial and multi-family (fourplex units and above) may water on Tuesdays and Fridays. Residential commercials will odd-numbered street addresses may water on Wednesdays and Saturdays and customers with even-numbered addresses may water on Thursdays and Sundays.
For all customers, outdoor watering may only be done with sprinklers and automatic irrigation systems of any kind between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. on the scheduled days. Those who choose to water with hand-held hoses or buckets may do so at any time and on any day.
Lockhart residents are encouraged not to wash sidewalks, driveways, parking areas or other paved surfaces except in cases where an immediate health or safety hazard is present.
Failure to comply with outdoor watering restrictions amounts to a misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine of up to $500. While variances to the restrictions may be granted, requests for such variance must be made in writing, to the City Manager, and will not be considered “solely on the basis of convenience of the customer.”
Meanwhile, the Lockhart Ministerial Alliance has organized a prayer meeting on Saturday, March 21, beginning at 5:45 p.m., to enlist divine intervention in the drought conditions, and forecasts suggest a chance of rain next week, fostering the area’s hope that March and April showers may yet bring May flowers.