Area departments responded to a fire west of Athens on Saturday that scorched a pasture and damaged a shed.

According to reports, the Athens Fire Department was dispatched to the blaze at about 4:18 p.m. The brush truck, Engine 2 and the Quint were all sent to the property on County Road 1503. North 19 was also dispatched to the location. The fire was reported out at about 6:15 p.m.

Initial reports indicated a burn barrel had fallen over and ignited a portion of the pasture.

The Henderson County Fire Marshal was contacted concerning the fire for further investigation.

Henderson County continues to be under a burn ban. On Monday, the average Keetch-Byram Burn Index reading for the county was 739 on the 800 point scale. Anything over 575 is considered dry enough to implement a ban. The driest part of the county measured 739, while the wettest was 590.

The county map shows it all to be in the 700 to 800 range except for the northeast and northwest corners.

“We know that 90% of wildfires in Texas are human-caused,” said Melanie Karns, Texas A&M Forest Service Hazard Mitigation Coordinator. “And this time of year brings more people outdoors, which can increase fire starts from escaped campfires, parking on dry grass and chains dragging the road.”

The Forest Service advises ranchers, hunters and others driving vehicles of paved roads to avoid driving over and parking on dry grass because the heat from your vehicle can easily ignite it. Always be ready to put out a fire should one start. Have a shovel and water with you in camp and have a fire extinguisher with you at all times.

 Texas county officials have the authority to set and lift their own burn bans. Make sure you know the burn ban status of the county you are in, before setting an outdoor fire.

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