Texas A&M Forest Service issues safety tips for the holiday seas - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Texas A&M Forest Service issues safety tips for the holiday season

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Released by the Texas A&M Forest Service:

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Conditions could line up for an active winter wildfire season in some parts of the state, and Texas A&M Forest Service officials are urging residents to take precautions.

The agency has identified an "area of concern" where large wildfires could occur this winter if conditions are right. The area includes everything north of a line from Fort Stockton along I-10 to San Antonio, north to Austin, northeast to Tyler and east along I-20 to the state line. That region didn't get enough rainfall this year to eliminate drought but did get enough to increase grass growth.

Low humidity, dry conditions and high winds can cause fire to spread rapidly, said Justice Jones, Wildland Urban Interface coordinator for Texas A&M Forest Service. Although there are particular areas of concern, fires can occur anywhere in the state, and residents should remain cautious.

"Any time the state experiences dry periods with strong, gusty winds, the threat of wildfire will increase and extra caution is encouraged to avoid devastating wildfires," Jones said.

Several precautions are suggested for the holiday season:       

  • Check for and obey burn bans and fireworks restrictions.
  • When and where outdoor burning is allowed, keep the fire small, never leave it unattended and remove flammable leaves and other materials from the area surrounding the fire. Avoid lighting piles on windy days.
  • Keep water nearby in case a fire starts. A spark or burning ember can ignite dry, fine-textured fuels like grass and weeds.
  • Read and follow label instructions on how to properly discharge fireworks.
  • Use fireworks with close adult supervision and only in areas clear of dry vegetation.
  • Avoid using fireworks, particularly aerial varieties, around buildings. Wind can carry hot fireworks onto roofs where leaves or other flammable debris may have accumulated.  
  • Remove your natural Christmas tree soon after the holidays and consider community tree recycling projects. Christmas trees can be ground up for mulch or provide shelter for birds and other wildlife.
  • Dispose of wrapping paper, boxes and other holiday waste by recycling, when practical. Burn paper and cardboard in a burn barrel or other fire-proof receptacle topped by a metal screen or grill, as winds can carry embers over long distances. 
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