Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - August 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Edouard Fails to Eliminate Wildfire Danger
Houston County Courier - August 2008
The upper Texas coast area got some beneficial rains from Tropical Storm Edouard, but away from the coast, rainfall was generally light and scattered to nonexistent.
With only slightly elevated humidity levels to show for Edouard's passage, much of East Texas remains parched and fire-prone.
Though light, scattered rains have occurred across East Texas, long range forecasts indicate a trend back to higher temperatures and lower humidities during August, according to Joel Hambright, regional forester with the Texas Forest Service in Huntsville.
This trend doesn't bode well for East Texas firefighters, he noted.
"Vegetation is already very dry, particularly on the western fringe of the piney woods region and northward from a Lufkin to Crockett line. When temperatures and humidity levels return to normal summer levels, East Texas residents will face an increased risk for dangerous, rapidly spreading wildfires," Hambright said.
Edouard didn't alleviate the prevailing drought conditions, so unless East Texas receives significant precipitation, the region could see a continued rise in both the number and severity of wildfires without public cooperation.
The Texas Forest Service and local fire departments need and request your help to prevent additional wildfires and fire losses.
The TFS regional forester pointed out that area residents need to take all possible precautions to prevent wildfires from occurring, to protect their own lives and property and the lives of firefighters.
"Wildfires pose a very real threat to lives, homes and communities, in addition to natural resources. They also bring heightened risks of heat-related injuries to firefighters working for extended hours in the extremely hot, dry conditions," said Hambright. "Heat stress and heat stroke are very real possibilities if firefighters don't drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated."
Unsafe burning of household trash, brush piles and other debris remains the most common cause of wildfires.
Many recent wildfires could have been prevented if residents had not left their outdoor fires unattended and if they had installed a wide firebreak around all outdoor fires, including outdoor burn barrels, according to Hambright.
Opportunities for unsafe outdoor fire use will be lessened if everyone will obey burn bans when and where they are in effect, he added.