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The Lead March 28, 2022: We're on fire in Kerr County

A pair of fires kept firefighters busy over the weekend.

Good morning, Kerr County!

For those of you considering mowing brush or doing something likely to cause a spark, you may want to reconsider. The reason? It's another red-flag warning day here in Kerr County. The National Weather Service said gusty winds and low humidity could lead to extreme fire danger — thus the warning, which runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The good news is that there's a chance of precipitation on Tuesday night, but we'll believe it when we see it hitting the ground. However, the weather will be a chief focus for all of us in the wake of two brushfires that stretched our volunteer fire departments thin over the weekend.

On today's The Lead Live!

Schreiner University's Don Frazier, who heads up the Texas Center, will update us on some of the work being done at the Alamo to broaden the historical perspective of the site. Join us at 9 a.m.

Today's newsletter is sponsored by

Also on The Lead tonight at 6 p.m.

Does anyone know what happened at the Oscars?

OK, new Academy Award-winner Will Smith sort-of slapped comedian Chris Rock over joking about Smith's wife. No one knows for sure what happened. However, we heartily endorse "CODA" winning Best Picture. "CODA" tells the story of a teenage girl who is the only one in her family who is not deaf. It's a great story and an uplifting movie. It's on Apple TV and we recommend.

Today's things for your planner

Public Meetings

  • Kerr County Commissioners Court — Kerr County Courthouse, 9 a.m. The details: This is a regular meeting.


  • Texas Woodcarvers Guild — Hill Country Youth Event Center, TBD. Information: The details: There are many classes offered at each of our events: Realistic animals, Caricature carving, Relief carving, Mallet Carving, Chip Carving, Architectural carving, plus more.

We are playing with fire — literally

For two days, Kerr County got a taste of wildfire emergencies — and they were relatively small compared to others across Texas. However, the terrain, dry conditions and winds certainly proved a challenge for volunteer fire departments on Saturday west of Center Point and Sunday north of Interstate 10 in Mountain Home.

Despite red-flag warnings for most of the week, the suspected cause of Saturday's fire was a lawnmower. That fire ripped across dense cedar breaks and raced across bone-dry pastures. The fire was just west of Comfort and Center Point along Wilson Creek Road, and let's say there was some threatening fire behavior on display.

With dense patches of cedar, the fire leaped about 30 feet or more into the air, and the dry pastures produced their dust-devil-like spirals that torched the landscape.

Kerr County Emergency Management Coordinator William "Dub" Thomas was on both fires, managing resources and the response from the county's volunteer fire departments. Thomas expressed concerns about back-to-back fires stretching the equipment and volunteers of the departments.

"There are two things we need — funding and people," Thomas said.

Unlike a structure fire, which most departments can handle, wildland fire can be a grinding all-day affair. It also requires different tactics, equipment and protective gear. Most firefighters on scene Saturday and Sunday wore fire-rated clothing for a structure fire. Some barely had that.

To outfit a single firefighter in wildland gear? How about $300 per firefighter, just one shirt and a pair of pants.

Last week, American Red Cross meteorologist Richard McAlister said he is concerned about persistent drought conditions for the Hill Country over the coming months — in turn leading to greater fire danger.

Through hard work and some breaks in the wind, firefighters could get the upper hand on both fires. However, we should all consider one reminder — it's only March.

COVID-19 continues its march

Kerr County's COVID-19 death toll climbed again on Friday when the Texas Department of State Health Services reported a death from late January.

The fatality was the 19th in January and 37th in 2022, but it also demonstrates the ongoing backlog of reporting experienced by DSHS. The death happened, most likely in San Antonio, on Jan. 24. It has not been uncommon for the agency to report deaths a month or longer after the fatality.

More than 200 people have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in 2020, but DSHS only counts 182 deaths because it does not track nursing homes or other care facilities in its tally.

While COVID-19 cases continue to fall across Texas, DSHS data suggests that Kerr County is still susceptible to the virus. Over the last week, at least 80 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Kerr County.

The Irish can pack the house

The Cailloux Theater was sold out for Sunday's performance of the Celtic Angels.

After being delayed for nearly two years — thank you, COVID-19 — the Celtic Angels finally made their performance at the Cailloux Theater on Sunday afternoon.

The 15-member troop of singers, dancers and musicians is nearing the end of their spring tour — one that covered 15 states. However, on Sunday, they may have been greeted by one of their most enthusiastic crowds — a sold-out Cailloux Theater.

That's right, more than 600 people happily attended a show that many bought tickets for in 2019. They were ready to applaud, and they rewarded singers Louise Barry, Olivia Bradley, Séarlait Ni Caiside and Victoria Sexton with standing ovations.

Speaking of ovations

The show that also drew a standing-room-only crowd was at Doyle School Community Center on Friday night, and it was spectacular. Organized by Clifton Fifer, the show probably should have been called Clifton and Friends because it was a celebration of music that was something to behold.

Fifer served as the emcee but sang with his buddies Greg Bitkower, Andrew Frimpong, Konrad Wert and Lee Haile. That proved magical when Wert jumped in on his fiddle to accompany Haile. However, one of the scene stealers was Ashley Valero, who elevated the whole show with her soulful voice. Here's a sample from the night:

Events coming Tuesday, March 29

  • Texas Woodcarvers Guild — Hill Country Youth Event Center, TBD. Information: The details: There are many classes offered at each of our events: Realistic animals, Caricature carving, Relief carving, Mallet Carving, Chip Carving, Architectural carving, plus more.
  • KACC Exhibits — Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: The details: Three exhibits are running at KACC through April 16. The Hill Country Youth Art Exhibit; Kerrville 1940-1960, a photographic history of the community sponsored by the Kerr County Historical Commission; Passion Project: Our contributions to the world, a collection of work from Schreiner University, senior art students.
  • "Art of the Plains" — Museum of Western Art, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: The details: This artistic celebration features realistic and representational artworks in traditional media depicting the American Great Plains region, including its landscape, wildlife, people, and way of life in historical or modern times.
  • The Fiber Show and Sale — Hill Country Arts Foundation, Ingram, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Information: The details: An exhibit of fiber art by artists from across Texas.


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