It may not seem like a concern if you live in the soggy areas in the Midwest, but drought conditions across South Texas are raising red flags and burn bans and concerns about wildfires. While you may think wildfires are out of your control, there are some ways to prevent and prepare for wildfires.
"Texans have to be aware of fire dangers and the need to be vigilant,” says Wayne Hanselka, AgriLife Extension range specialist in Corpus Christi, Texas. "Protecting property through installation of fire guards, removing of excess fuel from around homes, barns, facilities and butane tanks are all precautionary moves.”
Ted McCollum, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist in Amarillo, remindes landowners that now would be a good time to visit with hunters, gas/oil production employees and others who have permission to visit their properties about safety and fire prevention measures.
"Also, even if there are no burn bans in a county, the conditions are still conducive to fires,” says McCollum. "So check the weather forecasts for wind conditions before burning, welding, etc. And make certain there is a means of suppressing a fire that might start as a result of these types of activities.”
Homeowners need to secure their homesteads and facilities against a wildfire, Hanselka adds. Make sure all water hoses and firefighting tools work; make sure sprayers have water in them. "Having the facilities and tools there, properly placed, can make a difference.”
Larger landowners may need to be thinking about installing firebreaks and fuel management, advises Hanselka . Fuel management – shred it, graze it, burn it down – allows a landowner to avoid a situation where fire can do significant damage.
Winter is a peak season to do prescribed burning, and under the right conditions it can be effective in mitigating the dangers. But Hanselka also warns that going through the procedure of making sure a prescribed burn is out, completely is also important.
"No cow patty left smoldering,” he says.
Laws and other prescribed burn information can be found at http://www.tamu.edu/ticc/prevention.htm .
More information about protecting against and preventing wildfires can be found at: http://texashelp.tamu.edu/ .
The Texas Forest Service has an updated list of Texas counties enacting burn bans at: http://tfsfrp.tamu.edu/wildfires/decban.png.