Burn warning issued by county judge
Outdoor burn ban could come July 4 if conditions persist

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

June 28, 2005 -- Hopkins County residents are being asked to exercise extreme caution with any outdoor burning due to the extremely hot, dry conditions.

Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap said his office had been contacted by the Texas Forest Service about the conditions and whether a burn ban had been put in place by the county.

While there is no ban in effect, the judge said one would be enacted on July 4.

"I am asking for people to restrain in any type of outdoor burning because of the dry conditions," Millsap said Tuesday morning. "Such conditions exist at this time that I would ask people to not burn [outdoors] until we have some type of appreciable rain.

"I will issue a burn ban Monday if we do not receive any rain this week," he added. "The ban will be in effect for seven days, which will take us to the next commissioners court meeting, and a burn ban will be on our agenda."

The warning comes just in time for the Fourth of July holiday and the traditional fireworks. While there is no ban on the use of fireworks, Millsap advised against their use and asked that everyone "please be careful."

While many counties have outlawed the use of fireworks for this holiday season, the judge said that would not be the case in Hopkins County unless there is a demonstrated abuse of them.

The weather forecast holds little, if any, hope for rain in the near future. Daytime high temperatures are expected to hover around the century mark and overnight lows in the mid-70 degree range.

The hot, dry conditions are the result of a high-pressure weather pattern centered over the state causing the extremely volatile conditions that have prompted both the Texas Forest Service and the U.S. Forest Service to officially declare the start of the 2005 fire season.

Burn bans have already been established in 39 counties, as well as on all national forests and grasslands in Texas. Along with burn bans, aerial firework restrictions have been implemented in 19 Texas counties. Both the burn ban and aerial fireworks ban maps can be viewed at www.tamu.edu/ticc.

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