Athens Review, Athens, Texas

July 5, 2013

HC holiday fires number 25

Among most destructive was pasture that burned in east end of county near LaRue

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

ATHENS — Fires and fireworks complaints were popping up all over Henderson County on the Fourth of July.

The Athens Police Department and Henderson County Sheriff’s Office said officers and deputies were busy, especially during the evening hours, keeping fireworks under control in the areas where it is forbidden by ordinance.

Fireworks are illegal in the city limits of Athens and in other municipalities and subdivisions in the county.  The county does not forbid fireworks in the unincorporated areas, except when dry conditions prompt a temporary action by Commissioners Court.

Henderson County was not under a burn ban or fireworks restriction this year, as in some previous Independence Day holidays. Dispatchers at the sheriff’s office fielded 16 calls reporting fireworks in various parts of the county on Thursday.

Athens Police Department officers were sent to several locations to investigate fireworks complaints. Police recorded more than 20 violations between 9:15 p.m. and 12:55 a.m.

“It was a pretty quiet night for the holiday,” Assistant Chief of Police Rodney Williams said. “We had a few fireworks complaints and minor things. A couple of people using fireworks got small burns.”

Williams said the traffic flow moved fairly quickly at the annual Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center fireworks show.

“It wasn’t quite as big a crowd as in some other years and we didn’t have much trouble getting them in and out,” Williams said.

July 4 was another busy day for volunteer fire departments in the county. According to HCSO reports, there were 25 fires, mostly grass fires, on the holiday. Several small grass fires were reported after sundown during the hours when firework popping was at its peak.

Fire departments in the eastern portion of the county fought a large afternoon grass fire that burned a pasture and hay bales near LaRue. Shortly before 3 p.m., the New York/LaRue VFD was dispatched to the blaze in an area bounded by U.S. Highway 175 and County Road 4720 and Loop 60. Units from Poynor and Berryville were also called to the blaze. Firefighters completed their work and cleared the scene shortly after 6 p.m.

The recent rash of grass fires has prompted the Henderson County Commissioners Court to add a possible burn ban to its July 9 agenda.