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Threat of wildfires dangerously high as hot, dry weather patterns hang over the state

Posted at 6:19 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 19:19:41-04

As hot and dry weather patterns become the norm across the state, the threat of wildfires is dangerously high.

Of the 254 counties in Texas, almost half are under a burn ban.

Experts say high temps and no rain means there is a lot of dry vegetation, which creates the perfect fuel for any fire to grow into an out-of-control wildfire.

Across the Brazos Valley and Central Texas, nine counties are on the list of counties banning outdoor burning. When drought conditions exist, a ban can be put in place by local leaders.

"It's August in Texas, so it's hot and dry no matter where you go, and unfortunately the models we are seeing right now aren't seeing any type of recovery any time soon," said Karen Stafford, Program Coordinator for Texas A&M Forest Service.

Using caution is extremely important when lighting a simple fire outside for a cookout.

"Any kind of activity that people do outside can cause a spark, which can cause a wildfire in these conditions," Stafford added.

There are numerous ways to prevent fires from flaring up, including something as simple as where you park your vehicle.

"So when people park in tall, dry grass, that catalytic converter under the vehicles can become hot and hot enough to start a grass fire," said Stafford.

Bryan Fire Marshall Marc McFeron says there are fines you could face for burning without a permit.

"If a citation is issued, the fine is $200 to $2,000 depending on the situation," he said.

Nine out of 10 wildfires in Texas are caused by carelessness, which means 90% of fires can be prevented with proper education and changing human behaviors.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, since the beginning of the year, Texas has seen roughly 3,000 fires, burning nearly 171,000 acres.