Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - August 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Judge orders ban on burning
Houston County Courier - August 2008
By Daphne Hereford
As of Monday, July 28 Houston County joined 132 counties across Texas currently under a burn ban.
All outdoor burning is prohibited in the unincorporated areas of the county according to the order signed by Houston County Judge Lonnie Hunt.
There are specific exemptions to the order that relate to public health and safety.
The order also states that the county is under imminent threat of severe damage, injury, as well as loss of life or property resulting from the threat of wildfires due to extremely dry grassland fuel, drought and other weather related conditions.
According to Houston County Fire Marshal David Lamb, violations are a Class C misdemeanor and violators could face a fine of up to $2,000.
Michael Wells with the Texas Forest Service said the preparedness level for the state of Texas was at "4", which equates to a high level of risk for fire.
He also said that 379 Texas Forest Service personnel were involved in fighting wildfires across the state.
Wells said the Keetch-Byram Drought Index for the county was at 663 as of Tuesday, July 29.
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index is a continuous index, relating to the flammability of organic material in the ground and attempts to measure the amount of precipitation necessary to return the soil to full field capacity.
Designed by John L. Keetch and George Bryam the KBDI is a number representing the net effect of evapotranspiration and precipitation in producing cumulative moisture deficiency in deep duff and upper soil layers.
The KBDI is a closed system ranging from 0 to 800 units and represents a moisture regime from 0 to 8 inches of water through the soil layer.
At 8 inches of water, the KBDI assumes saturation.
Zero is the point of no moisture deficiency and 800 is the maximum drought that is possible.
At any point along the scale, the index number indicates the amount of net rainfall that is required to reduce the index to zero, or saturation.
The inputs for KBDI are weather station latitude, mean annual precipitation, maximum dry bulb temperature, and the last 24 hours of rainfall.
Reduction in drought occurs only when rainfall exceeds 0.20 inches (called net rainfall). The computational steps involve reducing the drought index by the net rain amount and increasing the drought index by a drought factor.
KBDI levels and its relationship to expected fire potential are reflected in the following table:
0 – 200: Soil moisture and large class fuel moistures are high and do not contribute much to fire intensity. Typical of spring dormant season following winter precipitation.
200 – 400: Typical of late spring, early growing season. Lower litter and duff layers are drying and beginning to contribute to fire intensity
400 – 600: Typical of late summer, early fall. Lower litter and duff layers contribute to fire intensity and will burn actively.
600 – 800: Often associated with more severe drought with increased wildfire occurrence. Intense, deep-burning fires with significant downwind spotting can be expected. Live fuels can also be expected to burn actively at these levels.