August 1, 2018 – Voluntary reduction in outdoor burning is requested by Hopkins County Emergency Management Director and Fire Chief Andy Endsley. Endsley says the county is being boxed in by other counties that are under burn bans and Hopkins County is only two weeks out from a burn ban. Delta, Rains, and Hopkins Counties are the only counties that are not under a ban. Hunt, Fannin, Red River, and Franklin counties are under burn bans.
Endsley says the county has been blessed with rains but those rains have been too scattered to relieve concerns. Each Monday morning, he contacts the regional coordinator at the Texas Forestry Service regarding their burn rating for the county. Endsley recommends that local residents who have need of burning refuse or brush piles utilize the Texas Forestry Service website regarding burn bans in the area. According to the site many Texas counties have issued bans. Much of central and western Texas is under a ban. Southeast Texas and a thin line from Lamar to Cherokee county and four other counties in Northeast Texas have not issued burn bans.
Endsley says that it would be best to wait to burn until more saturating, full-county-coverage rainfall occurs. He noted that season rain in the Fall often provides the rainfall needed. Otherwise, there will be a strain on the system with multiple grass fires. He noted that at this time a fire call is automatically considered a First Alert with two stations responding. He noted that now by the second alarm, if the fire is near a neighboring county, a request is sent to that neighboring county for assistance. A three alarm fire automatically brings neighboring county aide.
In a farm focused county such as Hopkins, Endsley is well aware that the need to burn is present. However, he also knows that farmers need to be protected as well. He noted that using a burn barrel for trash is important but the barrel needs a heavy wire mesh over the top to keep debris from flying out while burning. He said that if a brush fire is needed, then call Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office at 903-438-04040 and the dispatch will inform you if you can or should not burn. He asked that one follow the suggestion of the dispatch office.
Fires are also possible when farm equipment strikes an object and causes a spark that develops into a fire. Endsley encourages farmers and others to go to Hopkins County Texas Emergency Management Facebook Page. The page contains suggestions that can assist in preventing fires. Advice including check bearings on equipment frequently and stop use if they become too hot; remove any loose hay trapped around rollers-the friction can build up heat and start a fire; keep a fire extinguisher and field sprayer nearby in case a fire breaks out.
If there is a need for a controlled burn, it is possible to have a fire department presence at the burn. The presence of a Department to observe the fire depends on the schedule for the department and volunteers. Endsley said call the local volunteer fire department or the County Fire Department at 903-439-6217, extension 5 to have a department to inquire about observation for a controlled burn.