Large portions of Texas are particularly vulnerable to wildfires amid extremely dry conditions and triple-digit temperatures.

Officials raised the State Wildfire Preparedness Level to 4 on Aug. 8. The Texas A&M Forest Service establishes preparedness levels from 1-5 based on wildfire potential and activity.

The details

Wind speeds over 15 mph and “critically to extremely dry” vegetation can create a breeding ground for wildfires, the TFS reported. Fires that start under these conditions often spread quickly and are difficult to control.

“The decision to move to a Preparedness Level 4 indicates that the complexity of wildfires across Texas is increasing to where they require more time, personnel and equipment to contain and put out,” TFS Fire Chief Wes Moorehead said in a news release.Very high to extreme fire danger is forecast through Aug. 11 for areas along the I-35 corridor between Dallas, Waco, Austin and San Antonio, according to the release.

In Hays County, emergency crews are responding to the Oak Grove and Oak Hill wildfires, which began Aug. 5 and 8, respectively.

Burn bans are active in 174 of Texas’ 254 counties, including Travis, Williamson, Hays, Comal, Guadalupe, Harris, Galveston, Waller, Montgomery, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.

Quote of note

“I continue to be impressed by the dedication and selfless service of firefighters across the state,” Moorehead said. “Every single day, they work in some of the hottest and most challenging conditions. These responders do a tremendous job protecting lives and property from destructive wildfires.”

Fire safety

Nine out of 10 wildfires are preventable and caused by people, according to the TFS. During the summer, wildfires are often caused by burning debris and using equipment that can cause sparks.

To prevent accidental wildfires, officials encourage Texans to:
  • Park in designated spaces and avoid driving on dry grass as the heat from a vehicle can ignite grass.
  • Make sure chains are properly connected when pulling trailers as chains dragging on the road can create sparks.
  • Keep campfires small, and never leave them unattended.
  • Extinguish campfires by drowning them with water, stirring them with a shovel and ensuring they are not hot to the touch.
  • Call local authorities about suspicious activity, potential arson and active wildfires.
  • Pay attention to local burn bans and restrictions.