Windy Winter Weather Stirs Up Problems In East Texas

Trees toppled, downed power lines, and fire dangers. Several East Texas counties were under red flag warnings Tuesday, including Van Zandt, Anderson, and Henderson. With the strong winds whipping through our area, fire authorities ask that you not burn anything outside.

"Any kind of outdoor activities that could generate a spark, welding and other things like that, and barbecuing," said Jim Seaton, Smith County Fire Marshal.

Several grass fires sparked in Cherokee and also Smith County Tuesday. The winds fueling and spreading the blazes.

"With this wind it does not take but just a moment to dry up the vegetation on top of the ground," said Seaton.  "If that vegetation ignites on fire it can rapidly spread to structures, homes, buildings, businesses before the fire departments can arrive to put the fires out."

Winds were so gusty in Arp Tuesday, an entire roof of a flower shop blew off, crashing down into a church next door.

"There was a man walking by and he said the wind just picked it up and it tumbled into the church parking lot," said Amy McKnight, flower shop owner.  "It put a hole in the church roof."

McKnight said a lot of kids play in the church parking lot and the situation could have been a lot worse.

"They skateboard out here and ride bicycles through it," said McKnight.  "A lot of people just drive through it just for a street. I'm just glad nobody was out here."

Fortunately no one was seriously injured and fire authorities want to make sure it stays that way until these potentially dangerous winds die down.

"You need to be very particular and watchful of what's going on," said Seaton.  "It doesn't take much, a spark from welding can ignite a fire or ashes falling out of a barbecue grill."

Fire authorities also urge you not to throw out any cigarette butts. The high winds caused several flight delays at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport Tuesday as well.

Courtney Lane, Reporting