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October 1, 2013

Burn ban will not be lifted for now

GREENVILLE — The ban on outdoor burning will remain in place in Hunt County for at least one more week.

Saturday’s rains, while welcome, were not enough to lift the county out of drought conditions. But Hunt County Fire Marshal Richard Hill said there is another reason why the ban will be in effect for the next seven days.

“Once the commissioners court passes it, only the commissioners court can remove it,” Hill said.

After Hunt County Judge John Horn issued an emergency order August 12, instituting a burn ban in the county as a result of severe drought conditions and an increased danger of grass fires, the Hunt County Commissioners Court voted to renew the ban for 90 days on August 20. The commissioners are scheduled to meet in regular session again on October 8.

“We are going to put it on the agenda,” Hill said, adding there is no guarantee the commissioners will vote to remove the ban at that time, as drought conditions persist across the county and are likely to worsen during the next week.

A reading of 800 under the Keetch-Byram Drought Index is the highest on the scale, meaning that it would take eight or more inches of rainfall to bring the soil to saturation. Hunt County’s readings under the index as of Monday afternoon ranged from 352 to 562 with an average across the county of 485.

Under the ban no outdoor burning is permitted in the unincorporated areas of the county, including the burning of household garbage.

The order does not restrict the outdoor use of welding, cutting torches and other similar tools, provided a separate individual is present to observe for fires and sparks and to have some type of fire extinguisher present. The order does not prohibit outdoor cooking but it does restrict the cooking activities to an enclosed apparatus, designed for cooking purposes.

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