I just finished looking at a weather report that shows the rest of July, and folks let me tell you, it can be summed up in one word — hot. If we wanted to add one more word, it would be dry.
Those of us who have grown up in this area know this is not an unusual weather pattern for this time of the year. We also know that this heat combined with the lack of rain can add up to grassfire or wildfire season in a hurry.
We also know that it only takes one little lapse in preparedness or accountability to set in motion something that can cost an entire community their homes or even someone’s life. So, now is the time to remind ourselves about extreme danger of things like carelessly tossed cigarettes and unattended or half-way extinguished campfires. Put that stuff out before it has a chance to grow into a monster that requires men with axes and hoses to tame.
Rich Gray, Texas A&M Forest Service Chief Regional Fire Coordinator, said in a recent statement that since July 1, Texas A&M Forest Service and local fire departments have responded to 155 wildfires that burned 27,889 acres across the state. Many of the recent wildfire starts have been attributed to humans and their activities—such as equipment use and debris burning—and are preventable.
He also said that "successfully preparing for a wildfire requires everyone to take personal responsibility for protecting themselves, their family and their property."
To do so, he said, creat defensible space around your home to allow for low intensity, slow-burning conditions in the event of a wildfire.
He also said to use non-flammable landscaping materials within the first five feet of your home. "Within the first 30 feet of your home, water plants and trees and mulch regularly, and consider xeriscaping if you are affected by water restrictions"
He said a healthy, well-maintained landscape is important to the survival of homes during a wildfire. "Make sure your plants are carefully spaced, low growing and free of resins, oils and waxes that burn easily." he added.
Of course he advised people to remove dead vegetation from under the deck of their homes and within 10 feet of houses.
And, he advised that people prune trees six to 10 feet up from the ground.
If you spot, or are unlucky enough to start, a grassfire, call the authorities immediately. Better yet, don’t start one. Put out any cigs that you might wish to discard and be careful not to park that car on dry vegetation.