Even with the overnight rains, officials say is it not okay to burn

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Rain across East Texas is doing little to pull us out of a severe drought. Fire officials say the soaking is helpful, but it's still not okay to burn.

"It actually can cause a little bit of a problem because people will think because it's rained the burn ban has been lifted and that's not the case," says Steve McCool, Lufkin Assistant Fire Marshal.

McCool says under the burn ban, you can receive up to a $500 fine for burning outside.

It's okay to light a grill under the ban, it's just not recommended.

"You can't burn trash, you can't burn paper, you can't burn clothes outdoors, even in a grill. It sounds kind of silly, but that has happened and you'll still get a ticket for it," says McCool.

After battling massive wildfires across the state, the Texas forest service says the rain is only temporary relief.

"What you can see is that the top few inches of soil are wet and just below the surface of the soil, it is dry as it can possible be. So, the rain was wonderful, but it certainly didn't end the drought," says Jan Amen, Texas Forest Service.

Amen says it would take eight inches of rain to even get this soil back to normal.

"That little bit of rain probably bought us a couple of days. Firefighters won't have to run on fires today and tomorrow hopefully, but there's a little breeze in the air and we've had a little bit of direct sunlight. Those two things will dry it out pretty fast," says Amen.

The Keetch-Bryam Drought Index is used by the forest service to measure wildfire potential.

800 is the highest level.

Right now, Angelina County sits at a 742 and Nacogdoches is at 759.

"Maybe just one burn is a bad idea. Just don't do it. Don't burn your debris pile," says Amen.

Although the rain is good, there's not much hope of coming out of the severe drought any time soon. Amen says the forecast for 2012 is bleak.

The forest service says the best kind of rain is a slow, gentle shower. A hard rain doesn't allow moisture to completely soak into the soil.

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