TFS: June is a Critical Month in Forecasting 2012 Wildfire Season

By: Nicole Morten Email
By: Nicole Morten Email

It began in Walker County. Shortly after, Montgomery, Grimes and Bastrop Counties would ignite, forcing homeowners to evacuate as thick flames took over and plumes of smoke filled the sky.

The plumes were so big they could be seen from outer space. To say that June 2011 was a busy wildfire season -- is quite the understatement. Fast forward one year later and you’ll find homeowners still busy cleaning up today. So far this year, 55,000 acres have burned across the state of Texas.That number may seem miniscule compared to 2.83-million; that's how many acres burned across the state at this same time last year.

"June is a make it or break it month for us,” said April Saginor, Texas Forest Service. “If we get some rain then we should be in pretty good shape for the summer, if we don't, we're going to be busy this summer."

According to the TFS, 87 Texas counties are currently under a burn ban; Brazos County isn't one of them.

"We've responded to 12 fires this weekend in the state," said Saginor.

The Burton, Berlin, Carmine and Latium-Wesley-Greenvine fire departments spent the afternoon of May 22 battling a grass fire that started out as a ‘controlled burn.’ Authorities say it quickly spread, catching 56 round bales of hay off Hartstack Road between Burton and Carmine. This is just one reminder the Texas Forest Service says residents should always be prepared.

"It doesn't seem like we need to be worried about these things and the time to do it is now. But we saw what happened last year and we encourage people to take the steps to protect their homes,” said Saginor.

Consumer Tips to help decrease wildfire risk and damage:

1. Keep propane tanks away from homes, property and flammable materials.

2. Store gasoline in an approved safety can, away from occupied property and buildings.

3. Remove firewood, wooden furniture, boats, lumber, etc. away from structures.

4. Clear roof surfaces and gutters regularly to avoid build-up of leaves and other debris.

5. Remove branches from trees to a height of 15 feet or more.

6. Create a fire-safe landscape zone ranging from 30 to 100 feet around the home.

-Plant only fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees. Carefully space tree plantings to avoid creating pockets of fuel.

-Create "fuel breaks," such as driveways and gravel walkways.

-Remove ground fuels like grass, leaves, pine needles, dead limbs and twigs within 30 feet of the home. Clear all flammable vegetation and other materials. Remove branches that extend over the roof or power lines. Mow grass regularly.

7. Keep fire tools handy: shovel, rake, water buckets and a ladder long enough to reach your roof.

8. Place connected garden hoses at all sides of your home or business for emergency use.

9. Know and teach family and coworkers about all emergency exits from your home, business and neighborhood.

10. Stay alert on the latest weather conditions in your area and know if there is a burn ban in your city and/or county.

This is also a good time to review your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy, to make sure you have adequate coverage for your home,

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