East Texas At Risk For Wildfires

High winds and drought conditions continue to fuel massive wildfires in Southern California, claiming more than 1,5000 homes and more than a dozen lives. With yearly rain totals down and winter just around the corner, many East Texans are asking the question; Could the same thing happen here?
Brad Smith, Fire Behavioral Analyst with the Texas Forest Service, says it could.
"You know you have seasonal changes in summertime everything is lush and green and generally getting some moisture," Smith said. "But as the rain stops vegetation starts to dry out."
"We get more accidental starts during the winter season because the state debris burning. It just takes a small ember to ignite that cured grass," he said.
It's Smith's job to gauge the fire risk levels across the state. He says while East Texas is not at the same risk level as California, it's not far off.
"Our vegetation is in much better shape than it is in California," he said. "As we dry out if we were to go four to six weeks without rainfall, we'd be in the same situation."
He says keeping people aware is his top priority.
"Sooner or later I don't care where you live in this nation, it's going to get dry, there's going to be a drought the weather is going to get bad and there's going to be extreme fires," he said. "We had them in East Texas in 2000 and we lost some houses, so it can happen to anybody."
A lesson learned in California.

Chris Gibson, reporting