The Texas Forest Service offers several tips relating to potential causes of wildfires:
• Burning trash or trash piles — Burn debris in barrels with metal screens or in small piles in areas cleared of vegetation. Stay with the fire until it is completely extinguished. Have a shovel and water handy.
• Protecting your home — Keep your yard mowed closely and remove all trash, brush and combustible materials from within a 30-foot radius of your home. Contact your local fire department or the Texas Forest Service for ways to make your home safer from wildfire.
• Driving — Hot catalytic converters and exhaust systems can cause wildland fires. Park and drive only in areas free of dry vegetation. Dragging chains cause sparks, so be careful when towing.
• Smoking — Extinguish and dispose of smoking materials in your vehicle ashtray.
• Cooking outdoors — Remember coals and ashes are still a fire hazard until they are cold to the touch.
• Storing matches and lighters — Keep them out of the reach of children.
• Building campfires — Build only in open, level spots away from trees and overhanging branches. Extinguish campfires completely with water. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
• Operating agricultural equipment — Keep mufflers and spark arresters in proper working order and avoid rocks and metal when using a blade or a mower. Regularly check sealed bearings in round balers for overheating.
• Welding — Before welding, remove vegetation from the work area or wet it down. Have someone with you to watch for sparks and keep a shovel and water handy.
The bottom line is this:
Unless absolutely necessary, please delay outdoor burning until the area has received much-needed rain. We all need to assume a proactive stance to ensure we take steps to prevent wildfires rather than contribute to their possibility.