Drought
8:30 am
Fri August 10, 2012

Hopkins County Becomes Region's Sixth Burn Ban

SULPHUR SPRINGS - Hopkins County Judge Chris Brown is following the path of his local counterparts in declaring an emergency burn ban due to increasingly dry conditions.

Commissioners will address the item when they meet Monday. Judge Brown told the Sulphur Springs News-Telegram:

“Please ensure all tall brush and weeds are kept low and a water supply is immediately available while welding at your shop. On projects away from your shop, we are asking that you inform Hopkins County Fire dispatch of your location and hours you will be on the location.”

Last year when a majority of the states’ counties were under burn bans in one of the worst droughts to hit Texas, there were numerous wildfires blamed on citizens failing to adhere to burn ban guidelines. Violations can be punishable by up to a $500 fine.

Thursday's declaration came on the day the U.S. Drought Monitor released its weekly index, which shows more of Texas is now drought free, but the percentage area of the state classified as in the worst stage of drought has also increased from last week.

The agency says 21.5 percent of Texas, mainly in the southeast, is in good condition. But exceptional drought areas jumped nearly 2.5 percentage points, that’s mainly in west Central Texas and parts of the Panhandle. A majority of Northeast Texas has been upgraded over the last couple of weeks from abnormally dry to either in moderate, including Hopkins County, or severe drought.

Earlier this week, Hunt County Judge John Horn signed an emergency order for a 7-day burn ban, which commissioners could extend for another 90 days when they meet Tuesday.

In a release issued Tuesday, Director of the Hunt County Office of Homeland Security Richard Hill said, "according to the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, Hunt County is in the 600 to 700 classification.  The index of 575 is somewhat the indicator of drought conditions."

Lamar County Commissioners had also recently approved outdoor burning restrictions. Counties previously under the ban include  Collin, Kaufman and Rockwall.