Conservation Matters August 2015

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

As wildfire season continues, landowners can watch for these potential fire situations

As wildfire season continues, landowners can watch for these potential fire situations

Wildfire season is here, and there is fuel to burn, said Dr. Morgan Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service range specialist.

During the week of Aug. 9, the Texas A&M Forest Service responded to 68 fires on 22,519 acres, and large fires were reported in Kimble, Edwards, Tom Green and Crockett counties, according to Russell.

“Extremely hot temperatures, low humidity, large amounts of dry grass and increasingly windy conditions are the perfect recipe for cooking up a very busy fire year,” she said.

The National Preparedness Level that monitors fuel and weather conditions, fire activity and resource availability for the Texas Interagency Coordination Center at Lufkin was increased to Level 5, the highest level, on Aug. 13.

“Given the continuing hot and dry weather and the major increase in fire activity, the decision to move to Preparedness Level 5 shows the complexity fire managers are facing to assure adequate firefighting resources are available to protect life, property and our state’s natural resources,” she said.

Russell advised watching out for the following potential wildfire situations over the coming months if dry weather lingers:

  • Watch for fires starting in bar ditches along roadways, often caused by cigarettes or idling vehicles. Report the fire immediately to local authorities and clearly state the location. 
  • Watch for dragging trailer safety chains that can easily spark roadside fires.
  • Watch for sparks coming from tire rims running on flat tires.
  • Keep all firefighting resources, such as slip-in pickup pumper units and sprayers, filled and ready.
  • Be aware of active county burn bans in your area.
  • Be careful when welding and when using a chainsaw.

“Hunting season is about to start and with it will come an onslaught of off-road vehicles,” she said. “When driving anything — pickups, utility task vehicles or UTVs and ATVs — through pastures, be aware that idling the vehicle in tall, cured grass can quickly spell disaster. Also, know that grass seed heads impacting the exhaust manifold can start fires.

“If conditions remain as they are, there will probably be some fires set by Mother Nature, but as a rule, most fires start from human carelessness,” she said. “Or, simply not realizing that some common practices, given the right conditions, can actually spark a fire.”

For more information, read the full AgriLife Today article or contact Russell at 325.657.7317 or morgan.russell@ag.tamu.edu. View the Living with Texas Fire video series for more information on prescribed burning and wildfire mitigation.

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