Hopkins County Judge Chris Brown signed a Declaration of Disaster related to risk of wildfires and an order restricting outdoor burning late Thursday afternoon due to the extremely hot, dry conditions.
“The weather has just gotten too hot, too dry and no rain in sight,” Brown said. “It just became necessary for us to go ahead and implement a burn ban.”
Although fire departments in the county are responding to an increased number of grass and brush fires, Brown said it was not due to people being irresponsible.
“It's gotten to the point where, even if you are careful, it becomes almost impossible to manage,” he said. “So, we had to go ahead and implement the burn ban.”
A lot of people living in rural areas of the county use burn barrels to dispose of household trash and the burn ban prohibits that.
“At the moment, we are going to ask that residents cease in doing that,” Brown said. “It takes just one little ember to get out and can cause a whole lot of damage right now.”
The burn ban, however, does not impact a lot of the outdoor cooking.
“Smokers and grills, things that are covered are still fine,” Judge Brown said. “But do exercise great caution right now. Stay close to them and have a ready supply of water on hand.”
The county judge said he would not hazard a guess as to how long the burn ban would be in effect.
The emergency burn ban will be in effect for seven days and county commissioners will consider extending the ban for a 90-day period in their next meeting.
Brown said that the commissioners court now has the discretion to lift a burn ban before the 90-day period ends if there is appreciable rainfall and improved weather conditions.
A violation of this disaster declaration is a misdemeanor criminal offense by fines up to $1000 and up to six months in jail.
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