After a sweltering summer for the record books, fall finally has arrived, bringing cool temperatures, the gift of rain and a sense of “ahhhh.”

Pumpkins have popped up on porches, fall decorations grace downtown, chrysanthemums and fall crocus have decked out yards in the hues of autumn and sweaters are coming out of storage.

But there may no more beautiful sights than those of full stock tanks and flowing water in the Paluxy and Brazos rivers. If the drought has made us all appreciate anything, it’s that we should never take water for granted. It is our most precious resource, next to children.

Last Saturday’s Girls Night Out drew a good crowd to downtown shops. Summer clothes were on sale, but sweaters and cool-weather attire were what shoppers snapped up in anticipation of cooler temperatures coming.

Despite cooler, wetter weather, Dwayne Griffin, Somervell County’s emergency management coordinator, said low humidity and strong winds make burning “very hazardous.”

Ironically, the Somervell County Fire Department fought a large grass/hay bale fire during Monday night’s thunderstorm.

Several brush fires broke out last week after Somervell County Commissioners temporarily lifted the countywide burn ban until Oct. 23

Almost immediately, Somervell County Fire Department responded to several “controlled” burns that got out of control and caught surrounding trees and brush on fire.

Somervell County Fire Department crews responded to three or four small fires, said John Cummins, assistant chief.

The largest one Wednesday was off of FM 205 northwest of Dinosaur Valley State Park.

Cummins said that although the ban has been lifted and it has rained recently, dry fuel remains on the ground.

"We go through this every time a ban is lifted," he said.

Residents who want to burn brush piles should keep at least a 50-foot-wide clear area around the pile, fire experts said.

“Remember that the grasses on top of the ground are still dead,” Griffin said. “Be sure to have an area cleared around all burn piles to protect from flying embers.”

Recent rains have prompted county government officials to lift burn bans in 17 Texas counties over the past week, the Texas Forest Service reported.

So far this year, more than 600 wildfires charring 39,602 acres were caused by debris burning, the Forest Service said.

The agency offers these safety tips while burning outdoors:

* Clear a 10-foot radius around your burn pile, removing all vegetation and flammable materials.

* Avoid overhead obstructions like trees and power lines, and don’t burn near structures.

* Wet the area around the burn pile.

* Never leave a fire unattended.

* Keep water and hand tools nearby.

Since fire season began last November, almost four million acres have burned across the state