Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to burn the giant pile of tree limbs collected here in the aftermath of mid-January’s Winter Storm Jupiter. That storm wreaked havoc on Hemphill and neighboring counties, stripping the limbs of trees and toppling power lines and poles, causing blackouts that affected some rural areas for several days and cost power companies millions of dollars in repairs.
Following an on-site inspection by TCEQ officials—during which inspectors examined the pile for prohibited materials like treated lumber and tires—the city received written authorization on June 8 to burn the tree-limb pile. Two weeks later, at 7 am on Friday, June 23, city employees circled the edges of the giant limb pile and, without ceremony—using a mix of diesel and gasoline—ignited the debris as a team of volunteer firefighters observed. The blaze burned for about 12 hours that day before it was spent, leaving behind ashes, a few still-smoking stumps of wood, and a lasting memory of the winter of 2017.
Word traveled quickly around town that morning that the limb pile was being burned, and a steady procession of residents could be seen driving through the county recreation complex, catching a brief glimpse of the flames from a safe distance.
City Public Works/Code Enforcement Officer Tommy Wyatt reported around 7 pm that evening that the fire had extinguished itself.
PHOTO BY LAURIE EZZELL BROWN