County-wide burn ban goes into effect
Firefighters respond to dozens of grass fires over holiday weekend

Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

July 5, 2005 -- The burn ban which became effective in Hopkins County at 3 a.m. today was ushered in with a rain storm, but not enough to counteract the parched conditions in the area.

Despite an overall 1.07 inches of precipitation in Sulphur Springs this month -- 0.89 of an inch of rain which fell today, 0.03 of an inch Sunday and .15 of an inch recorded last week -- the rainfall has not been enough to offset drought conditions, which kept county firefighters busy over the weekend responding to at least 35 reports of grass fires between Saturday and Tuesday morning, according to reports.

Overall, drought indexes through Monday showed Hopkins County to be in the 600 to 700 range, with each 100 representing an inch of soil dryness. Hopkins County overall was ranked at 624, still higher than Friday's average. The driest portions of the county ranked 705 on Monday's drought index, with the less drought-consumed areas ranked at 547.

The western and northern parts of the county appear to be some of the most in need of rain, with index readings in the 600-700 range.

However, the Reilly Springs area and a small portion of the county near the Wood-Rains County line appear to be in worse shape, in the 700-800 severe drought range. The southeast portion of the county was listed in the 500-600 range.

The grass fires from drought conditions reported this weekend -- several at the same location where fires rekindled -- show the burn ban is definitely needed.

Hopkins County Commissioners Court is slated to review the burn ban in a special meeting Thursday to determine whether an appreciable amount of rain has fallen to lessen drought conditions or if the burn ban should be extended.

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