As the dry conditions continue so does the fire threat for the Lone Star State. The Texas Division of Emergency Management said more than 5,200 acres of land burned over the New Year holiday.
The most recent grassfire here in the Texas Panhandle, happened in Oldham County, west of Amarillo on December 27th. That fire burned 930 acres, after it jumped the median on I-40. Fire crews from Deaf Smith and Potter Counties stepped in to help fight the blaze, that did at one point threaten two structures, but they were saved. The fire was said to have started after a tire came off a truck axle and sparked the grass on the eastbound side of the road near mile marker 42 on I-40.
Experts say the high winds and dry conditions are perfect conditions for massive and destructive fires. In fact, many counties in the Panhandle are currently under burn bans including Potter and Randall counties. Texas has 254 counties, 158 of those are currently under a burn ban, to see if your county is one of those click here.
In the last five years, ten wildfires have destroyed 1,065 structures and killed 22 people.
An estimated 90 percent of all Texas wildfires are caused by human activity , like the one in Oldham County . You can help prevent wildfires with a few simple precautions, like:
Be careful when pulling off a road or driving into a field. Hot catalytic converters can ignite vegetation.
If smoking in your car, extinguish cigarettes in vehicle ashtrays. Never toss a cigarette out of a car window, and don't put cigarettes out on the ground. IH-35 and IH-20 are especially prone to fire danger this year.
Avoid burning trash. The greatest single cause of wildfire is sparks or burning trash blown into the air because debris is not properly contained. Even a barrel covered with a screen can allow a spark to escape, igniting nearby vegetation.
Keep a fire extinguisher and water handy when working outdoors with equipment that gets hot, or involves sparks, such as welding equipment. Water down outdoor work areas in advance if possible.
Don't use fireworks. Do respect burn bans when your county officials declare them.