County lifts burn ban, caution still encouraged

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Rusk County has rescinded its burn ban and the situation is looking better in Gregg County as well.

According to Patrick Dooley, assistant emergency management coordinator based in Henderson, the office recommended commissioners lift last week’s burn ban after a steady improvement in drought conditions.

“It’s OK right now,” Dooley said. “We’re still up there, but it’s OK.”

The Rusk County OEM urged commissioners to put a ban in place July 2, and it extended past the July 4th holiday and through the weekend, restricting most burning activities without prohibiting outdoor grilling and official training.

As of Monday, Dooley said, the area is in better shape following the wet weather and those limitations have been lifted. He still urges caution, of course, and another ban could go into effect at any time, depending on the weather.

“We’re watching it. We’re keeping it on the agenda from week to week,” he confirmed July 9. “Every commissioners court (meeting) we’ll go over it again.”

Gregg County Fire Marshal Mark Moore also asked people to be cognizant of cooking outdoors and the risks it carries.

It never fails, he said Monday: someone grills and then tosses their charcoal briquettes without ensuring they won’t catch something else on fire. Stay vigilant, Moore says, even as the drought index improves.

“As we keep getting some showers, I think we’re going to be in excellent shape,” he said, not anticipating a burn ban in the immediate future. That said, “I monitor that very closely to make sure we don’t reach a critical status where that burn ban should be needed.”

– By JAMES DRAPER

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