Texas Forest Service warns of Winter fires

By: Coleman Swierc -


Along the wall at the Texas Forest Service building, pictures of Smokey Bear reminds people of fire safety. An especially important message, even now.

"We have had several fires recently," said fire prevention specialist Mahlon Hemmeter.

The Texas Forest Service is warning people, do not confuse the recent cold weather, with wet weather.

"Anytime we get an extended period of dry weather like we have had recently, we will have fire dangers start to elevate considerably," said Hemmeter.

"The fuels are cured by the cold weather, making them extra dry," said Texas Forest Service Information Officer Jan Amen.

In fact, the Forest Service says winter fires, can be just a frequent as summer fires, and the cold weather, and occasional rains, in fact, may be more suitable for fires.

"You get windy days like we have today, and it does not take long for that moisture to be gone and it be back to flammability again," warned Hemmeter.

"When it gets cold and dry, it seems to get extra windy, so the fire season in Texas ends up being 365 days a year," said Amen.

So if you must burn during the cold months, the Forest Service offers these tips,

1.) Build a ring around the fire.

2.) Burn away from hanging branches.

3.) Avoid burning leaves and loose materials.

4.) Do not leave the fire.

The Forest Service warns that avoiding the necessary precautions, often leads to unfortunate results.

"Unfortunately, we count on about 90% of our fires to be human caused, and it is just them being careless," said Amen.

And thats the same message, Smokey Bear has been preaching...for over 60 years.