Burn bans a challenge for agricultural Hopkins County

Burn bans a challenge for agricultural Hopkins County
(Source: KLTV News Staff)
(Source: KLTV News Staff)
(Source: KLTV News Staff)
(Source: KLTV News Staff)
(Source: KLTV News Staff)
(Source: KLTV News Staff)

New burn bans are popping up all over East Texas, but for one East Texas county, the decision to enact a burn ban is a very difficult one.
Fire fighters in Hopkins County are walking a thin line when it comes to burn bans.

Steve Eppars and his family have been in the farming business for almost a century. Like many around Hopkins County, they depend on the ability to burn their land to make room for crops, or for grass for animals to feed on.

"It restores the land, it gets rid of the weeds, it gets rid of the junk. We have a lot of locust thorns on this place, and as they start out as seedlings, if you can burn, it burns them up," says Eppars.

A burn ban in Hopkins County, which relies heavily on agriculture, is a decision that County Fire Chief Kevin Yates says is complicated.

"It can be challenging because of the fact that people always want to compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges, and no county can be compared to any other county," says Yates.

Farmers in Hopkins County like Eppars would feel the pressure of a ban put in place.

"Your grass isn't going to be near as good, you're going to have to buy more feed, you're going to have to buy more hay. It's just going to cost you more money to operate," says Eppars.

Burning operations require a lot of planning and a close eye, especially under dry conditions. 

"I've had it get out of hand a couple of times too. The fire department has been here before," says Eppars.

Chief Yates says a burn ban this year is not out of the question, but even with other bans going on right now, it's still not a decision that can be made quickly.

"We like to put a lot of thought into it and how it's going to affect our citizens before we just jump and put one out," says Yates.

For Eppars, work on his land still needs to be done, and he wants that chance before any ban comes up.

"Fingers crossed they don't, and hopefully we can burn this one here pretty soon, we'd like to get a little rain you know to kind of wet things back up, but we'll burn it, my brother and I will burn it, I guarantee it,"
says Eppars.

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