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Texas A&M Forest Service encourages fire safety this holiday season

December 28, 2023

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M Forest Service urges everyone to use extreme caution when participating in activities that may start a wildfire or house fire this holiday season. One spark can ruin a holiday.

“We have been fortunate to receive rainfall over the past few weeks and this moisture has helped to decrease the wildfire potential across the state,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “Even though the potential for a wildfire ignition is low, we encourage everyone to be careful with outdoor activities that may cause a spark this holiday season.”

Wrapping paper and tree recycling

The danger doesn’t end just because the holidays are over. In Texas, careless debris burning causes the largest number of human-caused wildfires, and unsafe burning of wrapping paper, gift boxes and Christmas trees after the holidays could spark outdoor fires. There are several alternatives for safe disposal.

Chip the tree and use the material as mulch in landscaping beds. Cut the trunk of the tree into small pieces to use as pathway edging. Composting is a great way to dispose of your tree and tissue paper. Remove tape, ribbons, and bows and recycle the wrapping paper, or save it to use again.

Always check with local officials for burn bans and other outdoor burning restrictions. Pay attention to local guidelines regarding open fires. Burn ban information can be found by contacting local fire departments or by visiting https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/TexasBurnBans/.

Firewood safety

Firewood stacked too close to buildings can also pose a threat. 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.

Professional fireworks displays are an excellent way to safely enjoy fireworks while celebrating the holidays.

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.

If a wildfire is spotted, immediately contact local authorities. A quick response can help save lives and property.

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