Forest officials fear rash of Thanksgiving fires

Brad Gallaway
Brad Gallaway
Mahlon Hammetter
Mahlon Hammetter

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas - email

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Captain Brad Gallaway says the Lufkin Fire Department is on high alert for fast-moving fires.

"You need to be cautious about anything you burn," Gallaway said. "The humidity's real low, the winds high. Real potential for spreading fast."

He's afraid even the slightest rainfall could fool people into thinking the fire danger has passed.

What comes behind the Thanksgiving cold front is what concerns weather forecasters.

"It's also going to turn very dry and windy on Friday," KTRE Chief Meteorologist Brad Hlozek said. "As a result, the fire risk is really going to increase over the weekend."

A long, cold holiday for many means there's a greater chance families will do some type of outdoor burning.

"Have a chance for an escaped fire for doing any type of burning, fire use: campfires, cooking fires, warming fires," said Mahlon Hammetter with the Texas Forest Service.

"All it takes is one ember to leave the campsite out where you have the fire at," Gallaway said. "A small fire can spread very quickly."

Just like Smokey the Bear says, only you can prevent forest fires. So as long as there's active burning going on outside there needs to be a set of eyes watching it.

Hammetter is also preparing for unintentionally set fires.

"Possibility of somebody towing something, dragging chains, towing a trailer," he said. "That create sparks that if its dry, humidity down, winds are up, it could spark another wildfire."

The experts warn, fire threats will only continue to intensify.

"At this point because our rainfall deficit is over 12 inches, what that means is that's how much rain we would need to get back to what we normally see in the 2010 calendar year," Hlozek said.

So, an ounce of prevention and a foot of rain are the only answers at this point.

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