Dry conditions increase risk of wildfires

There are over 138 counties in Texas under a burn ban, as of mid-October.

Although temperatures have dropped, much of the state continues to experience drought conditions.

A dry weather pattern is expected to persist throughout the rest of the year. Karen Stafford, program coordinator at Texas A&M Forest Service, noted these dry patterns will extend primarily through North Central Texas and East Texas.

“We’re seeing critically dry surface fuels and some fire potential that could be seen in the winds, as well,” Stafford said.

The Texas A&M Forest Service and local fire departments are responding to wildfires primarily being started by people burning debris.

“We’re seeing increased fire response, primarily in East Texas, Central Texas, and the primary cause of that is debris burning,” Stafford said. “People are out in the yard. They’re enjoying the cool weather, taking advantage of the nice dry days, and they’re burning their yard debris. Those debris piles are starting to get away and are causing the majority of our wildfires right now.”

The number of counties with a burn ban continues to increase. As the dry pattern continues, more counties are expected to implement bans.

“We are expecting to see more drying continue through the next month or two,” Stafford said.

As of mid-October, 56% of pastures are rated poor to very poor, and over 70% of the state is experiencing drought conditions.

It is important for Texans to be mindful of the increased risk of fire, Stafford said.

TFS has additional fire prevention tips, as well as information on local resources and the current fire situations, at tfsweb.tamu.edu.

For current burn ban information, visit tfsweb.tamu.edu/BurnBans.

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