Texas A&M Forest Service is monitoring large areas of Central and West Texas this weekend as triple digit heat and high wind speeds increase the potential for wildfires.
Areas near Childress, Abilene, Waco, Austin, San Antonio, Del Rio, San Angelo and Wichita Falls have the highest potential for fires due to limited rainfall and 10 to 15 mph wind projections. The forest service will be monitoring the areas through Monday and expects Sunday to have the most potential for fires because of high wind speeds.
While Brazos County is under a burn ban, the Texas A&M Forest Service’s Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal shows that the area has a low risk on the Fire Intensity Scale. Even so, the forest service recommends that residents refrain from any burning, even if they are in a county that is not under a burn ban. Currently, 161 of Texas’ 254 counties have a burn ban in place.
“The combination of hot temperatures, emerging drought and increased wind speeds will make new fires more difficult to control,” Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Analyst Luke Kanclerz said in a release.
The Brazos County burn ban prohibits all outdoor burning.
Dove season started Sept. 1, and Texas A&M Forest Service Hazard Mitigation Coordinator Melanie Karns said the increased number of people spending time outdoors could also lead to a higher risk of wildfires.
“We know that 90 percent of wildfires in Texas are human caused,” Karns said in a release. “And this time of year brings more people outdoors, which can increase fire starts from escaped campfires, parking on dry grass and chains dragging the road.”
To reduce the risk of fires, hunters should avoid jacketed bullets, tracer rounds and high velocity ammunition. Target shooters also should stay away from dry places and avoid steel and rock targets that can have sparks.
Nobody should park on dry grass after driving, because heat from the vehicle can start a fire. The forest service recommends hunters take a fire extinguisher, shovel and water with them on trips.
Editor's note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Brazos County allows residents to burn brush and untreated wood during a burn ban.