LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Calcasieu Police jurors have the option of declaring an emergency and banning fireworks in the parish if current dry conditions continue. They'll decide next week.
Jurors don't want to ruin 4th of July fun, but says Police Jury President Hal McMmillin: "If you light a field on fire and it lights a house on fire we've got a real problem in the parish."
Emergency Director Dick Gremillion says they have the authority to ban the non-professional shooting of fireworks if necessary. "We're hopeful we're going to get some potentially significant amount of rain by the mid part of next week. If that happens, this shouldn't be as big a concern. But if it doesn't, to enact a ban or whatever we might decide to do on fireworks, we'd need to do an emergency declaration. That is an option."
It's already illegal to pop fireworks in Lake Charles and Ward 3 of Calcasieu. And the State fire Marshal has issued an order prohibiting all private burning in Louisiana except certain agricultural burns done by professionals or those approved by local officials. The order will stay in effect as long as the state fire marshal deems necessary.
Chief of Lake Charles Fire Prevention T.A. Jones urges people to obey the order and refrain from burning. "It's going to get drier as it goes and we wish the public would use major concern."
While the State Fire Marshal's order covers burning, officials will decide whether a fireworks ban is necessary next week. Officials say a ban would not interfere with the professional display planned by the City of Lake Charles.
Earlier the Police Jury Wastewater Committee met. Parish government may one day crack down on those whose home sewerage systems don't work. As the wastewater committee works toward stopping sewage that runs into ditches and waterways, they're talking about ways to get homeowners to comply with pollution laws. One idea is to work with realtors and make sure whenever a house sells, the sewerage system is in good working order. Explains Parish Planning Director Jim Vickers, "Before a home sells it would get an inspection. If it passes fine. If we need to go in and put a new aerator in there, if it needs to be pumped out-- and they were very supportive and encouraged us to do that and to try to work with the lending institutions and so forth when they come up for sale."
Jurors also got a report from their consulting engineers, Meyer and Associates, on the development of wastewater collection and treatment in various areas of the parish. The huge issue is funding-- which could ultimately include a combination of loans, taxes and user fees. But no decisions have been made.