Major fires reported as county listed under exceptional drought conditions

·2 min read

Aug. 7—Multiple major fires have erupted across Hunt County during the past week, as the county remains about as dry as can be scientifically measured.

The county, as well as almost the entire state of Texas, remains under a ban on outdoor burning, but there is at least a chance of some improvement in the forecast.

—The latest readings under United States Drought Monitor reveal that the entire North Texas region remains under at least an extreme drought, with the southern half of Hunt County listed under an "exceptional drought," the highest level listed.

Readings under the gauge were recorded Tuesday and the conditions have likely worsened since, given as how no measurable precipitation has occurred locally since at a few spotty showers on Sunday afternoon.

—The Keetch-Byram Drought Index — which monitors soil moisture levels and is an indicator of the potential for grass fires — revealed all of Hunt County was nearing the highest levels possible.

A reading of "zero" under the index means the soil is saturated, while 800 is the highest reading on the index, meaning that it would take eight or more inches of rainfall to bring the soil to saturation.

As of Friday morning readings under the index for Hunt County ranged from 709 to 770, with a countywide average of 754.

—Hunt County's ban prohibits the outdoor burning of trash or other items in any of the unincorporated areas of Hunt County. A violation of the ordinance can result in a fine of up to $500 for each occurrence. Also, if an illegal burn during the ban causes damage to another person's property, the incident will be investigated as arson. The ordinance does not prohibit outdoor cooking in an enclosed apparatus designed for cooking, such as a grill.

—The personnel from Hunt County's volunteer fire departments have been assisted this past week on at least two occasions by resources with the Texas A&M Forest. Incidents noted by the state agency have included the Dry Creek Fire, which covered 11.6 acres and the Neylandville Fire, which covered 65.1 acres. The Rains County Office of Emergency Management reported that during the past week two people died among the multiple fires in Rains County.

—The National Weather Service forecast was calling for at least slight chances of precipitation in the area on Monday afternoon and again Tuesday into Wednesday.