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Risk for Texas Wildfires is High: Minimize & Mitigate Where Possible

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Over the coming five days in Texas, it’s going to feel more like springtime weather as opposed to winter, and the next anticipated cold front may possibly be on the way in the early part of next week, according to meteorologists. With the above-average temperatures across the state comes the imminent threat of wildfires. Having seen a few of these in its history, Texas state officials are warning in advance with respect to the potential for critical to near-extreme fire conditions and how to minimize the risks.

Record Highs & Strong Southwest Wind Gusts Increase Risk

Risk for Texas Wildfires is High: Minimize & Mitigate Where Possible

Photo: Wikipedia

With several days of record highs in the 70’s to 90’s possible, Many cities across Texas are forecasted to reach or exceed previously recorded highs, particularly today (February 6) and Tuesday (February 7). This being the case, to a great degree the proportionate concern regarding the weather will center around the risk for wildfires throughout Texas this week. The Panhandle, West Texas, the Big Country, Permian Basin, and Northwest Texas are under risk and warning for auspicious wildfire conditions. The humidity values, high temperatures, and wind gusts anticipated at more than twenty-five miles per hour from the southwest create a seamless combination for fast-moving fires. And a similar danger is expected to arise again on Tuesday throughout the Permian Basin, the Big Country, Concho Valley, Northwest Texas, West Texas, North-Central Texas, and into the Hill Country.

Short-Term Mitigation Measures

Risk for Texas Wildfires is High: Minimize & Mitigate Where Possible

Photo: Wikipedia

If the risk is so, the mitigation measures must be equally great. meaning every opportunity to minimize the risk for wildfire must be taken. Landowners are asked to take a few precautions to reduce wildfire fuels and make their property and home less vulnerable. Although you may have a fantastic local fire department in your county, don’t let that make you complacent in terms of becoming wildfire aware or prepared. It is ultimately your responsibility to reduce fuels and make every effort to remove additional hazards from your property that would prevent firefighters from entering and putting themselves at risk. For the short-term, some short-term evasive techniques you can currently practice are listed as follows:

  • Where possible create a temporary green-belt (i.e., lawn space) 10- to 30-feet wide around your home.
  • Clean and remove debris from your gutters and roof.
  • To eliminate or reduce “fuel ladders,” trim trees between eight and ten feet. Where possible, thin them as well, creating a space of approximately 10 feet between their crowns.
  • Downsize the number of shrubs beneath trees.
  • Ensure firewood is stacked uphill from your home at a fair distance.

Longer-Term Planning & Safety Measures

Risk for Texas Wildfires is High: Minimize & Mitigate Where Possible

Photo: Wikipedia

Longer-term wildfire mitigation techniques are listed as follows:

  • Landscape to include the green-belt identified above as well as including fire-resistant plants in irrigated and non-irrigated parts of your property.
  • Consider the full removal of trees which are up against your home or have branches that overhang your roof. If you can’t or don’t want to remove the trees, at the very least, prune the branches in a way that they don’t make contact with the side or roof of your house.
  • Where possible and feasible, replace your roofing with a fire-resistant material.
  • For emergency calls, ensure that your lot number and/or address number are displayed clearly at your driveway entry.

For more information on preparing for wildfires, visit the Texas A&M Forest Service, the Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, and learn from past Texas wildfire experiences through FEMA. Stay safe!

Sources:

Texas Storm Chasers

Oregon State EDU