|No decision yet, but commissioners may issue ban on outdoor burning, fireworks|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
June 20, 2006 -- Hopkins County commissioners held off on issuing any kind of burn ban in the county last week in hopes of rain this past weekend. Now they are looking much closer at the continuing dry conditions with that thought in mind.
Local volunteer firemen and the county fire department are responding to one or more grass fires each day. Some fires have resulted in heavy losses to hay producers, as well as grazing land.
"It looks like we are getting closer and closer to implementing a burn ban," said Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap. "It will definitely be on the agenda at Monday's commissioners court [meeting]."
Millsap said members of the commissioners court are watching Texas Forest Service reports that show Hopkins County is in a "low-priority zone," but the judge thinks the state agency needs to take a closer look at local conditions.
"I don't know if they have gathered enough information countywide for Hopkins County to make a better determination than some of the people that have been calling us," he said.
Hopkins County is not alone in facing the dry conditions. Currently, 127 counties in Texas have instituted burn bans, the closest being Red River, Van Zandt and Kaufman counties, according to the Texas Forest Service’s “Outdoor Burn Bans and Local Disaster Declarations” report for June 20.
The judge warned everyone to be careful, and to not burn outdoors if it is not necessary. Controlled burns and trash barrels can get out of control and spark an expensive fire.
"We've got volunteer and county fire departments that will meet the needs of accidents that are going to happen," the judge said, but added people need to hold off on outdoor burning until some precipitation has fallen.