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Texas officials expect early start to summer wildfire season, public urged to #DoYourPart

The Texas A&M Forest Service says 90% of wildfires in Texas are man made.

LUFKIN, Texas — The summer wildfire season is expected to have an early start in 2020 due to early drying and a little rainfall in the forecast, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The forest service says much of the state is three to four weeks ahead of a what the normal summer drying would be for Texas. With not enough rainfall to compensate, analysts believe the state could have a severe wildfire season.

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“The dryness we are currently seeing across portions of the state is, generally, what we would be experiencing in mid- to late July,” said Brad Smith of the Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department. “The drought that will carry over from the spring into the summer and the emerging drought that is developing in June have initiated an early start to the summer fire season. Early summer drying in June also introduces the possibility of experiencing a severe late-summer fire season.”

Conditions are changing and wildfires are on the rise across the state.

Join Rich Gray, Chief Regional Fire Coordinator, as he gives us all some excellent advice on how we can do our part to prevent wildfires. Weather and fuel conditions across the state are getting hotter and drier, and in turn we are seeing an increase in wildfires. Remember #DoYourPart, don't let a wildfire start.

Posted by Wildfire Education & Prevention - Texas A&M Forest Service on Monday, June 15, 2020

As of June 9, firefighters with the forest service and local departments responded to 90 wildfires that burned more than 21,000 acres of land across the state. Unfortunately, most of the wildfires were caused by people including equipment use, welding and debris burning. Many other fires started along roads.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, 90% of wildfires in Texas are caused by humans.

“Texas is experiencing an uptick in wildfire activity across most of the state, and it’s easy to think that a wildfire won’t impact you until you see the smoke on the horizon,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Firewise Coordinator Kari Hines. “Now is the time to prepare your house and property to make them wildfire resilient. Create an evacuation plan for your family that includes pets and livestock. Look for the buildup of dead and dry vegetative material around your house, the driveway, and other important buildings, as this is where embers can gather and start fires.”

Karen Stafford of the Texas A&M Forest Service says for East Texas, the biggest risks for man made wildfires are sparks from equipment and debris burning.

Stafford said maintenance is key to ensuring faulty equipment does spark and cause a wildfire.

"When burning debris, wait for the correct weather conditions, make sure your area is clear, install a fire break around the burn pile, and have a water source close by," Stafford said.

You can watch a message from Stafford of Texas A&M Forest Service for more East Texas wildfire prevention tips.

East Texas conditions and fire prevention tips

Across East Texas we are starting to see conditions changing in our vegetation, such as grasses and shrubs. Temperatures are beginning to soar to near 100 degrees bringing on the typical summer patterns we experience in this region. Recently, there has been an increase in wildfires caused by escaped debris burning. These conditions tell us we should proceed with caution with any outdoor activity that can create sparks. Normal activities such as mowing our lawns, baling hay, and towing trailers have the potential to create sparks or overheated mechanical parts. Proper equipment maintenance is key to preventing these kinds of fires starts. When burning debris, wait for the correct weather conditions, make sure your area is clear, install a fire break around the burn pile, and have a water source close by. Remember #DoYourPart, don't let a wildfire start.

Posted by Wildfire Education & Prevention - Texas A&M Forest Service on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

You can also read more about wildfires and how to prevent them by following this link.