9-5 Grassfire on loop.jpg

Drying grass along Loop 7 provided fuel for Tuesday afternoon fire Athens Fire Chief Russell Marshall said.

AFD responded to the call shortly after 2 p.m. about a fire that had started near the roadway on the northwest section of the Loop and moved into a nearby pasture. The fire scorched about 4 to 5 acres before it was quenched.

"It was slow moving," Marshall said.

The AFD brought two fire engines and a brush truck to the location. Calls went out to the Murchison and Brownsboro departments. Murchison responded with a tanker, while Brownsboro brought a tanker and a brush truck. The Athens Police Department sent two officers to assist.

The final fire engine cleared the scene at 4:17 p.m..

AFD personnel returned with a brush truck and fire engine that evening to investigate.

The cause of the fire was not determined," Marshall said. "It's extremely dry now."

The AFD did not fight many grass fires during the early part of the summer due to wet conditions. The threat grew as the season went along.

"They picked up a little in August," Marshall said.

Henderson County installed a burn ban on August 20 to last for 30 days unless removed by Commissioners Court or County Judge Wade McKinney. At that Henderson County had a reading of 627 on the Keetch-Byram Index that measures moisture in the soil. That's on the dry end of the 800 point scale. The county uses 575 as the threshold for declaring a burn ban.

On Wednesday, despite rains in portions of the county over the weekend, the county average was 647. The driest area measured 721, while the wettest had dropped to 380. That was a small area on the Kaufman County line.

According to the state outdoor burning statute, violation of an outdoor burning restriction is a Class C misdemeanor, and is punishable by a fine up to $500. There are certain exceptions to the ban, including: firefighter training; public utility, Texas Department of Public Safety, natural gas pipeline or mining operations; planting or harvesting of a crop.

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