With no relief from heat and drought in sight, Comal County commissioners Thursday extended an Aug. 11 disaster declaration requiring contractors to obtain permits for outdoor “hot work” that could spark wildfires.
Jeff Kelley, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said the measure has reduced the number of fires caused by activities like cutting rebar for new construction.
Contractors are required to keep water in work areas, wet areas down, cut grass and designate spotters to watch for sparks that welders can’t see when wearing helmets.
The drought also is giving county residents cause for concern.
More people are signing up for the Regional Emergency Alert Network, which would send texts and email alerts to residents who might need to evacuate in the event of a wildfire or other natural disaster.
“Wildfires plus Hawaii have sparked a renewed interest in registering cellphones with addresses, evacuation orders and how that works,” he said.
To learn more about Comal County’s emergency management program click here.
Meteorologists with the U.S. National Weather Service Austin-San Antonio say there are some signs the high-pressure ridge sitting over Central Texas could move to the north — but not by much, Kelley said. Even if the tropical moisture forecast to move into the Gulf of Mexico next week develops into a wave or tropical depression it won’t alleviate drought in the county.
“There’s really no appreciable rain in the long-term forecast,” he said.
Fire Marshal Kory Klabunde said Thursday’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is 740 on a scale of 800.