East Texas Firefighters Battle Grass Fires For Second Day - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/25/05-Henderson County

East Texas Firefighters Battle Grass Fires For Second Day

There were at least 12 grass fires in the East Texas area, two that involved homes. We are almost 19 inches below where we should be in terms of rainfall for the year. Firemen say that shortage makes fires more likely and high winds fuel those fires. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your home in these very dangerous conditions.

A grass fire in Henderson County started when someone threw a cigarette butt on the ground, instead of into an ashtray where it belonged. Quickly, firemen say, it grew out of control.  "Well, we didn't know exactly what we had," said Baxter Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jim Brown. "There was so much smoke, and so much fire, that it was everywhere. We called for back-up, extra trucks, the forestry service."

At least 15 volunteer firemen battled this blaze, but in the end, 12 acres, plus a mobile home, went up in flames. Firemen say both sides of this road are charred because of high winds. "It jumped the road. It never slowed down when it hit the road," Brown said.

If a cigarette could do this much damage, imagine an outdoor burn gone awry. Just two days ago, the burn ban in Henderson County was lifted. Firemen say in spite of that, this is not a good time to be doing any outdoor burning.

"I understand they're under pressure from people needing to burn, but it's not a good time, and the forest service has issued a long range forecast: 90 days. Do not expect any major rainfall for 90 days. So, we got this coming all winter," Brown said.

If you have to do some outdoor burning, and it's permitted where you live, here are some tips to help protect you and your home. First, check with your fire department for a recommended receptacle if you must burn trash. Never attempt to burn aerosol cans. Do not burn on dry windy, days like today. And finally, consider a safer alternative for lawn clean up. Compost your leaves, your grass and your stubble.

Firemen warn the best tip to keep this from happening to your land, is to not burn at all until we get a little rain relief in East Texas.

Lindsay Wilcox reporting. lwilcox@kltv.com

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