Wildfires still a potential threat in areas where burn bans are lifted
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Recent rains have prompted county government officials to lift burn bans in 17 Texas counties over the past week, but the risk of wildfire is still a concern, according to Texas Forest Service officials.
Debris burning is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Texas – and due to recently-lifted burn bans, this weekend may be a prime time for landowners to dispose of their trash.
Texas Forest Service officials have determined that so far this year, more than 600 wildfires charring 39,602 acres were caused by debris burning.
Some safety tips while burning outdoors include the following:
- 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.
The ongoing drought has devastated the state’s land and trees this year and aided in creating conditions that are ripe for wildfires. Since fire season began Nov. 15, 2010, almost 4 million acres have burned across the state.
“Recent rains have been beneficial and we are currently experiencing a lull in fire activity, but the underlying drought still poses a threat for significant wildfires throughout much of the state,” said Karen Stafford, a wildland urban interface specialist with Texas Forest Service.
Texas Forest Service urges residents to use caution when doing anything outdoors that could cause a spark and postpone burning when conditions are dry or windy.
The agency does not set or lift burn bans but provides drought and other information to county government officials who make those decisions. To find out if there is a burn ban in your county, you can check out the Texas Forest Service burn ban map or contact your local authorities.