COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Increased wildfire potential is expected across much of the state early this week due to approaching dry cold fronts and high temperatures.
"Most wildland fires this time of year occur just before or just after a frontal passage," said Brad Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department Head in a news release. "These fronts often pass through with little precipitation, but they do bring increased wind before and after the front passes. These increased winds can help to spread fire in a landscape that is full of freeze-cured grasses."
Residents should stay current with local fire weather forecasts due to the rapidly changing fire environments this week.
Texas A&M Forest Service urges everyone to be careful when participating in activities that may start a wildfire or house fire and practice fire safety this holiday season. One spark can ruin a holiday.
Wrapping paper. In Texas, careless debris burning causes the largest number of human-caused wildfires. Unsafe burning of wrapping paper, gift boxes and Christmas trees after the holidays could spark outdoor fires. Recycle as much paper wrapping and ribbons as you can.
Residents should pay attention to county burn bans and avoid all outdoor burning until conditions improve. Burn ban information can be found by contacting local fire departments or by visiting https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/TexasBurnBans/.
Firewood safety Another fire hazard during the holidays is firewood stacked too close to buildings. Firewood is often cured, or dried, so it is easier to light in a fireplace. This drying process does not just make it easier to start a fire in the chimney—it makes it easier to light everywhere. When firewood is stacked too close to a home, it can lead a wildfire right up to the structure. Keep firewood stacked at least 30 feet away from all structures.
Fireworks safety. Fireworks are often used to mark special events and holidays. When using fireworks during the holidays, don't let your fun turn into flames. Check for local restrictions on fireworks and burn bans before use. Fireworks should be used outdoors on flat, smooth surfaces away from dry grass and flammable materials. Always have a water source nearby in case a fire ignites while using fireworks.
Practice fire safety while enjoying the outdoors
Campfires can be a great source of warmth and fuel for cooking, but be sure to keep these safety tips in mind. Locate a safe spot for your campfire, away from anything flammable and far from overhead hazards. Pile up rocks around your fire to help keep the wind out and fire embers in. When you are done with your campfire, fully extinguish it. Drown, stir and feel the area for heat. Hold your hand just above the wet ashes — if you feel any residual heat, continue to add water and stir. Remember, if it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.
When hunting, be aware of any action that could cause a wildfire. Hot exhaust systems could ignite dry grass. Park only in designated areas or in areas free of anything that can catch fire. Your ammunition type matters when hunting; steel core and full metal jacket ammunition have the highest potential to start wildfires.
For information on wildfire prevention, please visit the Texas A&M Forest Service website at http://tfsweb.tamu.edu.