BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — The weather here in the Brazos Valley has been dry and hot, creating the perfect condition for grass fires.
Activities like mowing your lawn are one of the main contributing factors to grass fires.
“People mowing grass, tires blown out, people going down the highway people pulling a trailer and your safety chains come undone,” said Brazos County Volunteer Fire Department Precinct 4 Chief Joe Warren. "Those are causing sparks.”
Alberto Montalvo, the owner of J. ALB Lawn Maintenance in College Station, says he can see the impact of the weather on people’s lawns.
“This summer has been a little bit drier than a few years,” says Montalvo. “I think the last time was 2011 or 2012.”
Warren says if you are going to use tools, make sure you have emergency items in case of a fire spark.
“If you’re going to be using cutting torches, make sure you have some type of water supply on hand- water, fire extinguisher, a garden hose that’s charged and have a spotter,” said Warren. “When people are cutting, they’re focused on what they’re working on right in front of them and they’re not looking at the whole 360-degree picture.”
Montalvo says he always keeps about five gallons of water with him.
“I keep water and a small fire extinguisher with me just in case,” said Montalvo. “I have never used it or anything, but just for my safety.”
Warren says the weather plays a major role in grass fires.
“The weather plays a big factor on the grass fires, so the lower the humidity...the temperatures start heating up, that’s when we start to see the calls coming in for a grass fire,” said Warren.
Montalvo says keeping your lawn mower clean is key to avoiding sparks.
“Mowing companies, they don’t blow the grass from the deck and all that, that causes the belt to heat up and catch fire,” said Montalvo. “When I’m done with a property, I blow it off. That saves me time and safety.”
Montalvo says commercial-grade lawn mowers get very hot after the belt spins fast.
“Whenever there’s dry gas on the belt, it pretty much starts burning off little by little and that’s whenever the mower can catch on fire or if it is dry, you got a big fire going on,” he said.
Another common case causing grass fires is tools.
“People can also start a fire by using saws, rotary saws put off a lot of sparks,” said Warren. “Right now, Brazos County is currently under a burn ban along with all the counties surrounding Brazos County.”
Montalvo says using an edger while mowing can create sparks, resulting in a grass fire.
“Especially whenever you’re using edging, the blades, whenever it hits the concrete, it blows small sparks so that can make some fire as well,” said Montalvo.
With temperatures rising to triple digits every week, Chief Warren says yesterday’s rain did not make a big enough impact to saturate the ground and for people to be mindful that we are still under a burn ban.