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There are currently outdoor burn bans in 93 of Texas’ 254 counties. It has been dry across North and Central Texas during the last 30 days, so even in counties not under an outdoor burn ban, please exercise caution. Click or tap here to download the Current Fire Potential fact sheet for Jan. 22-28.
The National Weather Service is forecasting elevated to critical wildfire weather outlooks for Thursday, Jan. 25, in areas covering the Texas Panhandle, Big Country, and parts of western and North Texas. Now is a good time to review your plan to prevent and react to fast-moving wildfires. Whether the fire burns up thousands of acres of pasture or entire crop fields, the economic loss to farmers and ranchers can be devastating. Taking the time to maintain equipment and prepare work areas can also mitigate the threat of a fire starting on your operation. The Texas A&M Forest Service offers the following information on how to prevent and prepare for wildfires. More is available on their website by clicking or tapping here or visiting texasforestservice.tamu.edu.
Compliance with burn bans reduces unsafe debris burning; but a burn ban does not have to be in effect for outdoor burning to be illegal. Negligently allowing your fire to escape onto someone else’s property is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500.
Tips for safer debris burning:
- Check for local bans on outdoor burning.
- Keep informed of wildfire danger levels.
- Avoid burning trash, leave, and brush on dry, windy days.
- Check to see if weather changes are expected. Postpone outdoor burning if shifts in wind direction, high winds or wind gusts are in the forecast.
- Before doing any burning, establish wide control lines down to bare mineral soil at least five feet wide around any burn barrels and even wider around brush piles and other piled debris to be burned. The larger the debris pile, the wider the control line needed to ensure burning materials won’t be blown or roll off the pile into vegetation outside the line.
- Burn household trash only in a burn barrel or other trash container equipped with a screen or metal grid to keep burning material contained.
- Never attempt to burn aerosol cans; heated cans will explode. Flying material may cause injuries and the explosion may scatter burning material into nearby vegetation and cause a wildfire.
- Stay with outdoor fires until they are completely out.
- Keep water and hand tools ready in case your fire should attempt to spread.
Wildfires can wreak havoc on an agricultural community. Whether the fire burns up thousands of acres of pasture or entire crop fields, the economic loss to the farmer or rancher can be devastating. Taking the time to maintain equipment and prepare work areas can mitigate the threat of a fire starting on your farm or ranch.
- Keep mufflers and spark arresters on agricultural equipment in proper working order.
- Watch for rocks and metal when bush hogging or mowing.
- Monitor hay baling operations closely, dry hay can ignite within the baler.
- Remove vegetation from the work area.
- Use a sprayer to wet down the work area prior to starting welding operations.
- Keep water handy.
- Have someone with you to spot any fires that sparks ignite.
- Avoid parking vehicles in dry grass tall enough to touch the catalytic converter on the underside of your vehicle.
The Texas A&M Forest Service offers more information on preventing and preparing for wildfires. Read more…