Governor proclaims: Area in extreme wildfire danger
Houston County Courier
By Lynda Jones
Gov. Rick Perry on Dec. 21 certified that 244 counties in Texas, including Houston, Anderson, Leon and Trinity counties, are currently threatened by extreme fire hazard. According to the governor, “Lack of precipitation has dried grass and other vegetation across the state, posing significant fire danger which is expected to continue.” Perry proclaimed, “I do hereby declare a state of disaster based on the existence of such threat and direct that all necessary measures both public and private as authorized under Section 418.017 of the (Texas Government Code) be implemented to meet that threat.” He also ordered that “all rules and regulations that may inhibit or prevent prompt response to this threat are suspended for the duration of the state of disaster.” Houston County has been under a burn ban order since the county commissioners met Dec. 14. When the county commis-sioners met Tuesday, Dec. 28, they accepted Fire Marshal David Lamb’s recommendation for a continuance of the burn ban until Jan. 11. However, there is no ban on fireworks at this time. County Judge Lonnie Hunt said during that commissioners court meeting, “We can’t control the fireworks.” He stated that in order for the county to ban fireworks, it would have had to declare a disaster and issued a burn ban by Dec. 14. If conditions change before the court convenes again on Jan. 10 and re-evaluates the situation, Lamb can lift the burn ban if he feels it is safe to do so. Lamb stated recent rain showers were inadequate to warrant lifting the ban at this time because windy conditions rapidly dried the moisture from the showers. The Drought Index was 664 on Tuesday, Lamb said, and still in the “extreme” category. Lamb also said he issued nine citations over the last three-four days, which included the Christmas weekend. He said a fire Monday, Dec. 27, burned three or four acres in Lovelady. Commissioner Roger Dickey commented that sometimes people experience a false sense of security when a short rain moistens the top of the surface but the ground is still dry underneath.