Extreme fire danger has East Texas fire officials on high alert

Melanie Spradling, Texas Forest Service
Melanie Spradling, Texas Forest Service
Steve McCool, Asst. Fire Marshall
Steve McCool, Asst. Fire Marshall

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - (KTRE) -  Texas hasn't been this dry, or the fire danger so extreme, since 1917.

"This kind of weather is definitely not the time to be burning," said Steve McCool, Asst. Fire Marshall.

Lufkin Assistant Fire Marshall Steve McCool says even a little rain won't make a dent in this kind of drought.

The Texas Forest Service is on constant alert.  This week alone, flames have devoured more than 200 acres in Angelina County.

"The wind is a big factor because it can push the fire and make it spread to who knows where," said Melanie Spradling.

The current weather pattern makes any fire a serious threat.

"I think a lot of people don't think about the effects. It could involve homes, or vehicles, people, animals," said Spradling.

It's just not hard to start a fire right now. Even small things like your hot car parked on high grass could easily spark up in these critically dry conditions.

"A big one is whenever your truck is connected to a trailer and that chain in between whenever that drags on the road will create a spark," said Spradling.

McCool is even worrying about smaller sparks.

"In such dry conditions, we're having a lot of roadside fires generally caused by people throwing their cigarette butts out their window," said McCool.

Many wildfires are preventable. Investigators are trained to discover where a fire starts even ones that spread hundreds of acres.

"You can determine where it started because there's certain constant factors associated with fires that you can trail it back to the original ignition point," said McCool.

If that happens to be your front yard during a burn ban, you could face fines, or worse.

"They could actually be charged with arson if they have a fire and it's shown to be negligent," said McCool.

The Texas Forest Service has sent seven fire fighters from Nacogdoches and two from Lufkin to a fire that covers more than 108 thousand acres in West Texas.

They are working on strike teams that are currently fighting the wildfire.

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