Texas drought map

This map, provided by the USDA and NOAA, shows abnormally dry conditions in the north end of Cooke County. Moderate drought is starting to creep into the state, both in the north and southwest.

Cooke County isn’t in a drought – yet – but citizens need to take care when doing outdoor burns.

“It’s getting drier and we’re starting to have a few spot fires out there,” said Cooke County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Fletcher Monday. “ … Some folks have had controlled burns that they haven’t controlled.”

Fletcher briefed the Cooke County Commissioners Court about increasing risk of field fires due to the recent dry spell. He said the county’s drought index hasn’t tipped into drought territory yet, but the moisture level in local soil is getting close to the danger zone.

“We’ve had a few of those (fires), but I don’t it’s gotten to where we need to do a burn ban – we’re nearing soil moisture levels that require a ban, but not yet,” Fletcher said.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Leon Klement said he’s noticed that Muenster and other fire departments in the northwest end of the county have been busier over the last couple of weeks.

“It’s important that we start talking to people about this early,” Klement said.

There is rain forecast over the next several days, after Tuesday night's early thunderstorms, which would relieve some of Fletcher’s concerns about soil moisture levels, but he urged citizens to take care when doing outdoor burns.

They need to limit their scope and stick with the burns until they have been put out.

“Let our firefighters continue with their jobs and not require them to fight these fires,” Fletcher said.

In other business, the court plans to meet Monday, Oct. 4, for the first of several work sessions to discuss the county capital improvement needs. They will address the renovations of the Kress building and courthouse annex in downtown Gainesville, as well as the Main Street parking lot. The meeting is set for 10 a.m.

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