Hopkins County Judge Chris Brown said this morning he has dropped the burn ban he put in place three weeks ago due to increased moisture and humidity levels.
“After our rains, indexes fell into the low 400s and the 14-day outlook keeps it about 550 or a little lower,” Brown said. “So, we thought it would be okay to go ahead and lift the burn ban and, hopefully, we'll get some more rain and not have to worry about that anytime in the future.”
Brown was referring to the Keech-Byram Drought Index, which was specifically devised in 1968 to assess the risk of fire. The index ranges from zero, the point of no moisture deficiency, to 800, the maximum drought that is possible. The index recommends burn bans be put into affect if it goes higher than 575.
“We tend to push that a little higher, especially if there is any kind of rain in the forecast,” Brown said. “It seems that most counties around us kind of follow suit. We're a little bit slower to put it on, and as soon as conditions are right again, we like to pull it off as quickly as we can.”
The judge cautioned, however, the burn ban can be quickly put back in place if conditions change.
“We are a little cautious right now because we are not seeing much rain in the immediate future,” he said. “Just be careful right now. If fires start getting out of control, we won't hesitate at all in putting the burn ban back on.”
Although the burn ban has been relaxed, both the county judge and County Fire Chief Kevin Yates strongly suggest anyone planning to burn trash or brush contact the county dispatch center, 903-438-4040, and let dispatchers know where they will be burning.
“Please let us know where you are,” Brown said. “That way, a passerby doesn't call in or a neighbor that sees it calls in and lets us know there is a fire. At least we can call you back and confirm and not send the fire department out there if it's not needed.”
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