As Drought Worsens, Wildfire Risk Increases

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BRAZOS COUNTY The further into summer we get, the hotter it is outside. With slim rain chances in the forecast, things are starting to dry up. Many counties across the Brazos Valley are falling under burn bans.

Right now only Burleson, Brazos, Walker, Trinity and San Jacinto counties are NOT in a burn ban. Walker County will consider a ban at their commissioner's court meeting on Monday.

As yards and fields across the Brazos Valley turn from green to brown, the risk for grass and wildfires increases.

Grass fires can spread, well, like fire.

As the temperatures outside increase, so does the risk for fire. Dry grass and brush are the perfect fuel.

"My backyard was in flames, I was scared," sighed a Brazos County resident. She was in shock.

"It was moving towards two houses, at the time, it had already burned through one trailer," explained Brazos County Precinct 4 Volunteer Fire Lieutenant Dan Williams.

A fire in North Brazos County spread quick. The damage was contained to some abandoned structure and a couple of boats, but it can get worse.

"It's definitely a high alert time for us as far as wildfires," says Bryan Fire Chief Randy McGregor. He's doing what he can to prepare his department and his city for wildfire season.

He's relying on past experience.

This wildfire season hasn't been as bad as it has in years past. In fact, over the last few weeks firefighters have only worked a handful of fires. As the summer goes on and the temperatures go up, the risk increases.

The weather is an important factor in how wildfires spread. Things like low humidity and high wind act like catalysts.

"When all those things combine, a small fire can spread extremely fast and turn into a large fire," explains McGregor.

"We get on the alert this time of year, with everything being so dry. We put extra focus on responses to wildfires," he continues.

Because every minute counts when flames are racing toward your home.

The Texas A&M Forest Service measures fire danger with the Keech Byram Drought Index, or KBDI. Brazos County has KBDI number of 600 to 700. The max is 800.