Despite the rain, the fire danger is not over - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Despite the rain, the fire danger is not over

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Despite the rain, the fire danger is not over. Drought-weakened trees could be a problem over the next year, with branches dropping over power lines and sparking fires.

Charles Hill with Oncor says drought-stricken trees that loom over power lines could spark the next inferno. The dry branches can instantly combust when they come in contact with high voltage. And the calls have already been coming in.

"It's a big issue with us and we're seeing more of it through the heat of the summer and we expect more," says Hill.

And when fire crews arrive, the danger is often too great for them to do their job.

"Any fire that involves energized electricity becomes an issue for us," says firefighter Jeff Akin.

The water that usually helps fight the flames becomes a conductor.

"We can't spray water up there on that electricity for fear that it could electrocute the fire fighters involved," Akin explained.

Even the water on the ground becomes a hazard.

Fire crews will usually call electric providers ahead of time so the power in the immediate area can be shut off. But sometimes, it's too late.

Akin says, "Sometimes it's better for a structure or tree or some grass to burn that it is to get someone hurt."

Hill and Akin say, if your tree is a problem, call your electric provider. A crew can safely remove the potentially hazardous branch.

Hill says the trees could be a major problem over the winter. The weakened branches can easily snap if we get a bout of ice or snow.

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