Increased wildfire potential across West and Central Texas this weekend

COLLEGE STATION — Significant wildfire potential will increase Sept. 7-9 across West and Central Texas as temperatures remain near 100 degrees, and wind speeds increase to 10 mph to 15 mph. 

Due to the emerging drought, hot temperatures and limited rainfall, cured grasses and brush are highly receptive to ignitions and burning, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

 The agency is monitoring the situation and has forecasted probable wildfire activity from Sept. 7-9. The greatest potential is likely to occur on Sept. 8 when wind speeds are highest.

“The combination of hot temperatures, emerging drought and increased wind speeds will make new fires more difficult to control,” said Luke Kanclerz, Texas A&M Forest Service fire analyst, Henderson.

A large area of Central and West Texas could be impacted. Areas around Childress, Abilene, Waco, Austin, San Antonio, Del Rio, San Angelo and Wichita Falls will have the greatest fire potential.

As of Sept. 5, 161 counties were under burn bans. Burn bans are put in place by a county judge or county commissioners courts when drought and weather conditions exist that make outdoor burning unsafe. Texas A&M Forest Service encourages residents even in counties not under a burn ban to refrain from any outdoor burning until conditions improve. 

Wildfire Prevention Tips 

  •  Know the county’s burn ban status, and if it restricts open flames and other heat-causing activities such as using charcoal.
  • Never leave a campfire or cooking fire unattended. Make sure the fire is completely out by drowning it, stirring it and feeling to ensure that it is out cold before leaving.
  • If using a trailer, make sure tires are properly inflated and ensure chains will not contact the road or any loose metal will not continually hit anything else, both of which can cause sparks.
  • Avoid driving over and parking on dry grass. The heat from a vehicle can easily ignite it. 
  • Always be ready to put out a fire should one start. Have a shovel and water available in camp and have a fire extinguisher at all times.
  • When fire danger is high, hunters should avoid using jacketed bullets, tracer rounds and high velocity ammunition. If target shooting, use areas free of dry vegetation and avoid targets that may throw sparks or hot fragments, such as steel or rocks.

Debris Burning Safety Tips

  • Check for local bans on outdoor burning.
  • Keep informed of wildfire danger levels.
  • Avoid burning trash, leaves and brush on dry, windy days.
  • Check to see if weather changes are expected. Postpone outdoor burning if shifts in wind direction, high winds or wind gusts are in the forecast.
  • Before doing any burning, establish wide control lines down to bare mineral soil at least 5 feet wide around any burn barrels and even wider around brush piles and other piled debris to be burned. The larger the debris pile, the wider the control line needed to ensure burning materials won’t be blown or roll off the pile into vegetation outside the line.
  • Burn household trash only in a burn barrel or other trash container equipped with a screen or metal grid to keep burning material contained.
  •  Never attempt to burn aerosol cans; heated cans will explode. Flying material may cause injuries and the explosion may scatter burning material into nearby vegetation and cause a wildfire.
  • Stay with outdoor fires until they are completely out.
  • Keep water and hand tools ready in case your fire should attempt to spread.

Equipment Maintenance 

  • Regular equipment maintenance reduces the risk of wildfires. 

Agriculture Equipment

  • Keep mufflers and spark arresters on agricultural equipment in proper working order.
  • Watch for rocks and metal when bush hogging or mowing.
  • Monitor hay baling operations closely, dry hay can ignite inside the baler.

Welding Precautions

  • Remove vegetation from the work area.
  • Use a sprayer to wet down the work area prior to starting welding operations.
  • Keep water handy.
  • Have someone with you to spot any fires that sparks ignite.
  • Avoid parking vehicles in dry grass tall enough to touch the catalytic converter on the underside of your vehicle. 

For more wildfire prevention tips, visit: https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/PreventWildfire/

 

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