|Burn ban remains in effect in spite of weekend rains|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
Jan. 23, 2006 - A break in a long-running weather pattern over the weekend resulted in an official 1.77 inches of rain in Sulphur Springs and forecasts hold a slight chance of more precipitation for later in the week.
Welcome though it was, the rain was not nearly enough to ease the critical conditions across the state as far as wildfires are concerned and, in Hopkins County, officials say the “zero tolerance” burn ban continues in effect as well as a state-wide ban on outdoor burning. The ban will continue until the area receives adequate rainfall.
�It is just not enough rain and we are expecting to warm up this afternoon,� County Judge Cletis Millsap said Monday morning. �This top grass will dry out pretty quick.�
Not only is grassland dangerously dry, Millsap said state forest officials say the problem is even greater in densely wooded areas.
�It will kindle real quick and go up like a Roman candle,� he said. �If temperatures go back up and this moisture dries, the top will be dry and the ground muddy.�
This will increase the level of difficulty faced by firefighters because they must now be concerned about the muddy ground and getting trucks bogged in the mud while they battle grass fires.
Sheriff’s officers and county fire officials were on patrol Monday morning looking for burn ban violations and, when violators are located, Millsap said citations will be issued.
�That means a $500 fine,� he said. �That is inside and outside the city limits � it�s county-wide, it�s state-wide and is to protect everyone�s property and their lives.�
The county judge, county commissioners, fire officials and law enforcement officers continue to ask residents to not burn anything until the dangerous conditions are relieved by adequate rainfall. Welding is also prohibited by the ban.