By KERRY CRAIG
News-Telegram Staff Writer
Some three weeks ago, County Judge Chris Brown was giving serious consideration to implementing a countywide burn ban. The winter had to that point been dry, and the Keetch-Bryam Drought Index showed Hopkins County to be on the fringe of severe drought and the potential for wild fire was high.
Since that time, the county has received considerable moisture in the form of both rain and snow, but Brown said Monday morning there is still reason for concern.
“The wind speed has been pretty high these past couple of weeks,” Brown said. “We've seen a couple of increased incidences of grass fires.”
With many people taking advantage of the seemingly wet conditions and burning brush, a number of the controlled burns have gotten out of hand.
Brown urged anyone planning a controlled burn to contact county fire dispatchers at 903-468-4040 to let county fire departments know of their plans.
“Usually, when people are burning, we will get calls. If people don't know if they are out there burning, they won't know if it's a controlled burn and think it is a big grass fire,” the judge said. “Letting us know beforehand would be very helpful and keep us from sending volunteer equipment and spending money on fuel out there.”
The judge also cautioned people considering a controlled burn to be aware of wind speeds and direction as well as humidity.
“Higher wind speeds, of course, can cause some problems,” he said. “The lower humidity can also cause problems when you are burning.”
The welcomed rain and moisture along with warmer temperatures has meant early growth of weeds, grass and brush that can mean more fuel for any fire and cause it to get out of hand.
“It will give more fuel for that fire to burn,” Brown said. “We just ask that people still use extreme caution when burning. We are going to have some more pretty weekends, so the temptation and desire to burn is going to be there and so will the winds, so please pay very close attention to those wind speeds.”
Judge Brown also cautioned against leaving a controlled burn of any type unguarded.
“Stay with it,” he said. “That's the one thing I need to emphasize more than anything, because something can jump up and get out 50 yards downwind. Whether there is a burn ban or not, you are still responsible for any damage you cause when you are burning.”
If you are planning a controlled burn, contact Hopkins County Fire Dispatch at 903-438-4040 and provide information as to when and where your planned burn will be.
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