Small amount of rain has little impact on big fire dangers

Small amount of rain has little impact on big fire dangers

SMITH COUNTY, TEXAS (KLTV) - Fire officials tell us Tuesday rain was helpful, but not the significant amount of rainfall needed to ease their wildfire concerns.

Oren Hale, Assistant Smith County Fire Marshal, said at least an inch of rain would need to fall to keep him from going before Smith County commissioners and requesting a burn ban.  The county has been holding off for rain to keep from having to issue a burn ban.

But Hale admits that extra inch of rain would only put off the need for a burn ban for a another seven to ten days.

Hale said Smith County fire crews have had to become even more aggressive battling fires. Departments now call for mutual aid as soon as they're dispatched to a brush fire.

"I've never seen the conditions this bad," said Paul Steelman, Upshur County Fire Marshal.

Upshur County commissioners held a special meeting, Tuesday morning, and issued a burn ban.

Steelman said the rainfall was needed, but tends to give people a false sense of security. "We logged, just over, a quarter of an inch and that's just not enough," he said.

Upshur County crews were pushed to the limit, Saturday, battling about 80 acres of burning land. The fire forced 10 families from their homes. Thankfully, those homes were spared.

We followed a plume a smoke to a piece of property in Smith County. We met a man who asked us to call him "Cowboy."  He was tending to a small fire on the property.

He said he'd been waiting for months for it to rain so that he could burn off the brush he'd cleared from his fence.

"It's still way too dry to be burning," he told us.

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