Monday morning during Hopkins County Commissioners’ Court, the commissioners agreed with County Judge Robert Newsom. In a 4-0 vote, commissioners voted to prohibit all outdoor burning in unincorporated areas of the county for 90 days. The ban does not include outdoor burning activities related to public health and safety that are authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for firefighter training; public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations; stated funded road projects with a plan of action on file; commercial welding projects with a plan of action on file; small fires for cooking in established contests sanctioned by Hopkins County or a municipal body with proper plan filed with the fire marshal’s office.
Midday Friday, County Judge Robert Newsom had issued a burn ban for Hopkins County. In the Emergency Order issued, Newsom stated that “…a state of disaster has been declared on the imminent threat of disaster from wildfire…” The ban is intended to impose “…controls on activities which tend to increase the likelihood of such fires…” The burn ban is for all unincorporated areas of the county for seven (7) days ending at midnight on October 15.
In the order it stated that “A person violates this order if he or she causes the burning of any combustible material outside an enclosure that serves to contain all flames and/or sparks, or orders such burning by others.” Local fire departments will respond to all outdoor burning and take immediate measures to contain or extinguish the fire. Law officers are also instructed to investigate the nature of the fire and issue warnings. On the second violation or on a flagrant violation of the order, prosecution can be expected. Under the ban, the burning of trash and/or other fires outdoors are forbidden.
County Judge Newsom made the decision to issue the burn ban after County Fire Chief Kevin Yates informed the judge that 12 fires have occurred over the past two days and that conditions have deteriorated to the level that demands the order. Newsom said the county has been able to avoid the order until now.
County Commissioners will consider the ban Monday in a meeting of commissioner’s court. Newsom stated that he hopes rain will occur so that the ban can be lifted.