As the head of Liberty County’s Emergency Management, County Judge Jay Knight is tasked with the responsibility of enacting burn bans during periods of drought. On Monday, Aug. 20, Knight called for a burn ban effective for the next 60 days in all parts of Liberty County.
Like the old saying, “Man plans, and God laughs,” rain fell on Tuesday afternoon and evening in many parts of Liberty County, but after weeks with very little rain, what fell quickly soaked in or dissipated.
“It basically soaked in so fast that we can’t even tell it rained,” Knight said. “We really need a three-day 5-inch soaker that will cover the whole county. That would be a blessing to us all.”
Near Knight’s family ranch in north Walker County, outside of Huntsville, two wildfires burned through hundreds of acres this week.
“It’s really dry in Walker County now and they are only 100 miles north of us,” Knight said.
At a Judicial Conference this week in San Antonio, Knight received fire updates from his ranch manager, who was kept busy keeping cows in the pasture while letting fire trucks and firefighters in and out of the property to access the fire.
“There was a 1,100-acre fire just to the east of us. We gave the Texas Forest Service permission to use our lake for a water supply. This saved them time from having to go another six miles to the Trinity River for water,” Knight said. “The fire is out now, but at last report, it got four homes, but no lives. Walker County Office of Emergency Management, U.S. Forestry Service and multiple VFDs worked two days to get the fire under control.”
The judge said the Walker County fire is a reminder of why burn bans are so important during high fire risk periods.
“It could happen in our county now with the dry conditions we are experiencing,” Knight said. “Can you imagine the expense? The chopper alone is around $3,000 per hour. It might make folks think before they strike a match.”
By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org