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December 18, 2013 COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Significant rain this year could be a potential threat during the winter wildfire season. Residents are urged to take precautions as the cold weather begins drying the increased vegetation.

Rains earlier this year helped suppress wildfire threats by improving moisture levels across majority of the state. However, this led to a rise in grassy areas, which can help spread fires if it becomes too dry.  

Potential for fire is especially relevant in the western plains regions of the state. Including the grass dominated areas west of a Wichita Falls to Abilene to San Angelo line. Strong persistent winds over this area could increase the chance of wildfires spreading.

“The concern is on dry and windy days,” said Tom Spencer, predictive services department head at Texas A&M Forest Service.  “A fire could start and spread quickly in these dry grasses, damaging anything in its path.”  Care is highly recommended throughout the winter months and activities that could accidentally start a fire should be limited.

Several safety tips are advised for all Texans this holiday season:

  • Check for and obey burn bans and fireworks restrictions.
  • When and where outdoor burning is allowed, keep the fire small, never leave it unattended and remove leaves and other materials from the area surrounding the fire. Avoid lighting piles on windy days.
  • Keep water nearby in case a fire starts. A spark or burning ember can ignite dry, fine-textured fuels like grass and weeds.
  • Read and follow label instructions on how to properly discharge fireworks.
  • Use fireworks with close adult supervision and only in areas clear of dry vegetation.
  • Avoid using fireworks, particularly aerial varieties, around buildings. Wind can carry hot fireworks onto roofs where leaves or other flammable debris may have accumulated.  
  • Remove your natural Christmas tree soon after the holidays and consider community tree recycling projects. Christmas trees can be ground up for mulch or provide shelter for birds and other wildlife.
  • Dispose of wrapping paper, boxes and other holiday waste by recycling, when practical. Burn paper and cardboard in a burn barrel or other fire-proof receptacle topped by a metal screen or grill, as winds can carry embers over long distances. 

For more information about daily fire weather forecasts and an updated fire danger map visit the Texas Interagency Coordination Center web page. 

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