Fire Danger Threatens East Texas Due To Dry And Windy Weather

"Once these fires get started it's very difficult to extinguish them before they cause a lot of damage," said Jeff Akin with the Tyler Fire Department.

This windy winter weather is fueling fires all across East Texas. Wednesday, 40 acres were scorched in Smith County. It sparked from a welder's torch.

"Be careful with anything that can cause a fire," said Akin.  "Construction workers that are out welding and things like that have to take more precaution."

When strong winds whip through our area like Tuesday, it dries out vegetation.

"You can just see the grass is turned brown," said Akin.  "During the winter time the trees, the sap goes down in trees, the leaves fall off trees, they turn brown so it's just dry vegetation."

And that makes for a dangerous situation. In Wise county, near Fort Worth, nearly 30 structures caught fire Tuesday, half of them homes declared a total loss. Here in East Texas, multiple grass fires were reported Tuesday and there may be more to come.

"Today the conditions are still very dry," said Grant Dade, KLTV 7 Meteorologist.  "The winds are a little lighter but they're still strong enough there could be an issue with a fire starting. It could easily spread with the strong gusty winds around 20 to 25 miles-an-hour."

Dade said another storm system is predicted to move through our area Thursday.

"Good news is it could bring some rain to the area, some much needed rain to give a little moisture to the vegetation.  The bad news is it's quickly moving out of here, not allowing enough time to pick up enough gulf moisture. The winds are going to increase once again tomorrow and those places that don't get enough rain will have some extreme fire dangers again as we head into late tomorrow and into Friday."

"Even if it rained today by tomorrow with the wind blowing like it does it dries that out very quickly so the hazard's are still there even a day after a rain," said Akin.

So over the next few days East Texans are urged not to burn outdoors, throw cigarette butts out, or grill outside. Basically, take extreme caution with anything that may spark a blaze.

Courtney Lane, Reporting