Wildfires pose danger in East Texas

Reported by: Holley Nees

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - On a windy, dry day, a fire could get out of control very fast.   Mahlon Hammetter a fire prevention specialist with the Texas Forest Service said without a burn ban, people are not as cautious as they should be.

"We aren't out of the woods for fire danger by any means.  In fact, we have to be careful there that we don't get lulled to feel a false sense of security that rain gives us that says the fire danger is gone because it isn't," Hammetter said.

When the humidity drops into the teens and the grass is dry, it only takes a little spark and a few seconds to start a grass fire.

The Lufkin Fire Department said the number of fire calls made in Angelina County is higher than this time last year. However, the problem goes beyond just grass burning.

"Where you have developments and people live, homes and businesses, things that have developed, interfaced with undeveloped or wild land areas then you have this amount of fuel that's where people live, and where structures are built and that creates the potential for a devastating wildfire," Assistant Fire Chief Duane Freeman said.

The Texas Forest Service said people should not be fooled by this weekend's rain.  The amount of moisture in the air is most important.  When the humidity is low, it is best not to burn.

"If it's dry and windy, postpone your burning there, whether there is a burn ban there or not," Hammetter said.

The fire department recommends if you do burn; always make sure to have a way of controlling the fire.  You should dig a trench or have a water hose nearby, and do not leave the fire until it has finished burning completely.

The Texas Forest Service said debris burning is the number one cause of wildfires.  This week is expected to be dry and windy with low humidity, so they recommend holding off on any burning.