Southeast Texas Experiencing Historical Drought Conditions
Fire Danger approaching Extreme Levels
As temperatures increase over the coming days and weeks, lack of rainfall is adding to an already high fire danger throughout our area. Most of the Houston area is now at or approaching an average Keetch Byram Drought Index average of 700 or more. The KBDI index ranges from 0 -800 with 700 or more considered to be” extreme” levels of drought and fire danger. Montgomery County’s average KBDI reading now sits at 706, with some areas nearing 750. Harris County currently sits at 690 and will surpass that level in a matter of days. These levels are unprecedented for this early in the year, and will continue to rise until the area experiences major rainfall. The area has not seen a soaking rainfall of 2” or more since October of 2010, leaving our wooded areas susceptible to a catastrophic fire.
At these drought levels, any fire can quickly spread out of control and endanger lives and property. Coupled with the long term drought, this makes fires increasingly difficult to control for area firefighters. Recent fires are requiring the commitment of large numbers of firefighters and Forestry crews to bring them under control, and many are continuing to burn and smolder for days. Most recent fires have been due to power lines downed by high winds, but some areas have seen an increase in Juvenile fire setting activity as the school year comes to a close.
Residents are to be commended for complying with the burn bans, but the number of fires caused by improper outdoor burning has started to increase, too. If you have not done so already, now is the time to take a look around your property and take steps to prevent wildfires and protect your property in the event of a wildfire. Page 2 A Public Service Announcement from the Harris and Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Offices
Here are a few simple steps:
TEN SIMPLE STEPS TO PROTECT YOUR HOME FROM WILDLAND FIRE
Wildfire can strike home if you have not taken some steps to protect your house and property. The actions and precautions listed below are designed to help you prepare your home and lessen the threat of wildland fire damage to you and your property.
1. DO NOT burn on “red Flag” or windy days and think twice before burning outdoors when KBDI approaches 700 or more.
2. LPG tanks should be far enough away from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire. Keep area around the tank clear of flammable vegetation.
3. Store gasoline in an approved safety can away from occupied buildings.
4. All combustibles such as firewood, wooden picnic tables, boats and stacked lumber should be kept away from structures.
5. Clear roof surfaces and gutters regularly to avoid build-up of flammable materials such as leaves and other debris.
6. Remove branches from trees to a height of 15 feet or more.
7. In rural areas, clear a fuel break of at least three times the fuel length around all structures.
8. Have fire tools handy such as: ladder long enough to reach your roof, shovel, rake and a bucket or two for water.
9. Place connected garden hoses at all sides of your home for emergency use.
10. Assure that you and your family know all emergency exits from your home.
11. Assure that you and your family know all emergency exits from your neighborhood.