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August 3, 2013

Official: No need yet for burn ban in county

GREENVILLE — Hunt County started the month of August the way it ended July, with most of the county listed under severe drought conditions.

The isolated storms which recently brought needed rainfall to portions of the county have not been enough to ease the drought numbers, but have been sufficient to postpone the need to implement a ban on outdoor burning in Hunt County.

Hunt County Director of Homeland Security Richard Hill said his office has been monitoring the situation, as well as the numbers and size of the fires which have erupted lately.

“Overall, we haven’t been hit that hard just yet,” Hill said Friday.

Hill said if conditions continue to worsen, he can request County Judge John Horn issue an emergency seven-day burn ban.

“We can get that done within three hours,” Hill said.

A major fire was reported Friday afternoon in the area of FM 1565 and County Road 2522, which required the Caddo Mills, Cash and Union Valley fire departments to bring under control in the 102 degree heat.

Most of North Texas was listed Friday under “moderate” fire danger conditions by the Texas A&M Forest Service, although Kaufman County had implemented a ban on outdoor burning this week.

Data for the United States Drought Monitor report, posted Thursday, indicated that all but the northeast corner of Hunt County was still under a severe drought, with the corner listed under a moderate drought conditions.

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index measures soil moisture. A reading of 800 is the highest on the scale, meaning that it would take eight or more inches of rainfall to bring the soil to saturation.

Friday afternoon, the county’s readings under the index ranged from 361 to 667, with an average across the county of 562.

The North Texas Municipal Water District has implemented Stage 3 outdoor watering restrictions, which means residential and business customers served by the district are limited to landscape watering with sprinkler or irrigation systems once every seven days. Other restrictions apply, depending on the city.

The City of Greenville is currently under Stage 2 water restrictions. Landscape irrigation is limited to Sundays and Thursdays for customers with a street address ending in an even number and Saturdays and Wednesdays for customers with a street address ending in an odd number. Landscape irrigation is permitted at anytime with a hand-held hose, a faucet filled bucket or watering can of five gallons or less, or a drip irrigation system.

The level on Lake Tawakoni, from which the City of Greenville pumps water to help maintain the levels on the municipal reservoir system, was listed at 430.58 feet Friday afternoon, down almost seven feet from the lake’s pool elevation of 437.5 feet, but still well above the all-time lowest level seen on reservoir — 424.9 feet — which was recorded on Dec. 29, 2006.

Although there is no current burn ban in place in Hunt County there are restrictions to outdoor burning. The burning of household trash is permissible, but the wind speed cannot be greater than 23 mph. Natural materials, such as brush and limbs can be burned, but not treated or painted lumber. No prohibited material — including but not limited to rubber, plastics, wire, insulation and furniture — can be burned, and a responsible person must be present during active burning.

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