|Second day of storms sparks grass fires|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Aug. 24, 2006 -- County residents who missed out on the rain Tuesday were the first on the receiving end of the storms which blew through Wednesday afternoon and into the evening.
County dispatchers began receiving calls of a grass fire in the northwest portion of the county around 3:45 p.m., around the same time the National Weather Service sent out an advisory of a series of storms flowing into the northwest portions of the county.
The storm cell was drifting toward Sulphur Springs with wind gusts expected to be between 40 and 45 miles per hour. The storm was expected to carry with it heavy rain and lightning, as well, but was expected to dissipate by 4:30 p.m.
Firefighters were sent to the reported grassfire, likely started from the aforementioned lightning. The fire was first spotted as a large column of smoke visible northwest of County Road 4725 in Ridgeway.
The storm’s progress was marked by another grass fire in the vicinity of County Roads 1120 and 1123 in Miller Grove a short time later. When firefighters arrived, they found approximately three acres were on fire, with medium fuel — the dry vegetation — burning at a moderate rate.
By 4:25 p.m., the NWS had issued a secondary warning to public safety officials advising the storm had “regeneration on the back end of the storm,” extending the thunderstorm warning by half an hour. However, other storms were moving in behind that cell, and that would mean another two hours before they were expected to clear out of the area. Heavy wind, lightening and rain was predicted with the extended thunderstorm advisory.
Officials working an accident on Interstate 30 reported seeing heavy lightning, as did firefighters responding to what were thought to be weather-related grass fires.
About 4:40 p.m. Wednesday, a structure fire was reported on County Road 4735 at County Road 4736. The house, located off CR 3134 in the far western part of Hopkins County, was said to be on fire and flames could be seen blowing out of it. When firemen arrived, heavy flames could be seen blazing out the top of the house, and the rest of the structure appeared to be consumed by fire. After consulting the property owner, it was confirmed no one had been living at the house. The house was too far gone to be saved, so firefighters checked the area around the structure, and took measures to ensure the blaze would not spread. A fire unit remained at the scene as a precaution while the blaze burned itself out as the house burned to the ground.
Before the storms ended, firefighters had responded to grass fires on FM 2653, County Road 4725 and on Old Paradise Road in Cumby, as well as a tree fire in an FM 2948 pasture in Como, and to hay being burned illegally on County Road 4763 during the storm.
Conversely, some sections of the county which saw heavy rain Tuesday, such as Arbala, had yet to see any rainfall by 5 p.m. Wednesday, residents reported.
Sulphur Springs’ rain gauges reported rain counts between 0.08 and 0.31 of an inch of ran, the higher number recorded at the city’s official weather center, but neither enough to ease drought conditions.