Fire officials encourage safety during driest part of summer

HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Fire officials say in the past seven days there have been 116 wildfires across the state of Texas. That, coupled with the dry weather, has them encouraging east Texansto be extra careful while enjoying the finaldays of summer.

School starts next week for moststudents, so people are getting outside to soak up the sun while they stillcan.

But with 16 east Texas counties under burn ban, those plans may need to be tweaked a little bit.

"People are getting ready to go back to school with theirend of summer parties and grills outdoors but the thing is any spark can causea fire," said Jan Amen, Fire Prevention Specialist, Texas A&M ForestService.

Hunting season is also gettingcloser, so fire officials are expecting a lot more traffic in the woods.

They say managingcampfires, portable fire pits and any smoking materials is critical.

"I can't even tellyou how many fires have been started by those pits not being out so please becareful with any kind of fire pit or grill because it could cause a devastatingwildfire," said Amen.

"If we don't get anyrain in the next few weeks it's going to be harder and harder to control soeveryone needs to take as much care as they can while in the woods," said JimCrooks, Operations Team Leader U.S. Forest Service.

Operations Team Leader Jim Crooks says currently therearen't any burn bands on any national forest land.

"The process for us to go into a burn ban is more detailedthan the county's so usually we'll wait until it gets super dry before weannounce a burn ban," said Crooks.

But the lack of an official burnban, isn't the same as a lack of risk.

"Whether there is aburn ban or not the fuels are still dry and the chance of a wildfire is veryobvious," said Amen.

Meaning any time outside, mayhave to be time without firing up the grill or campfire.

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