Forest Service Advises Fire Readiness

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In Parker County a few days ago, one-thousand acres were scorched after a grass fire. It's just another reminder of the high winds and dry conditions that will plague Texas for the foreseeable future. But don't think the fire danger is limited to the rural parts.

"We're concerned with the road sides, out on the highways and such, disgarded smoking materials," said Bryan Fire Chief Mike Donoho. "The heat from the exhaust on cars that pull over, those types of things. Also, the trains that come through town create a tremendous amount of heat."

But Mother Nature has been cooking up the dry conditions this year, and it's a cruel twist from last year's very high rain totals. On average, we'll get 39 inches of rain. At the end of November for 2005, rainfall is well below the average.

The lack of rain still has 120 counties in Texas under burn bans, including much of the News 3 viewing area. Brazos County's is set to expire December 6, but there's not a lot of significant precipitation in sight, so those burn bans might not be over any time soon.

In an advisory sent out by the Texas Forest Service Wednesday, fire departments are being asked to gear up for a busy winter. Any volunteer outfits are being strongly urged to make sure their equipment is working and all training for personnel is up to date.

Case-in-point, a rookie member of the volunteer department in the town of Carlton was killed two days ago after he lost control of his vehicle on the way to a fire.

Brazos County's firefighters say they're, they're asking residents to be wary.

"One of the biggest problems we're still having is folks are burning," said Joe Ondrasek, the chief in Brazos County Precinct 4. "These little showers we get from a firefighting standpoint, they don't do much. The conditions are still very dry. The winds are still very fast."

The bottom line: don't be fooled by small showers. It'll take a lot of big ones to make things safe for burning again.