Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - March 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Fire risk identified
Houston County Courier - March 2009
Texas Forest Service has identified 14,506 communities as being at risk for wildland fire.
Surprisingly, many populated areas are more at risk, due to the increased number of human-caused fires.
People and their activities cause more than 90 percent of all wildfires in the state. Careless debris burning of household trash, brush and leaf piles, and garden spots results in the largest number of human-caused wildfires.
Other significant wildfire causes include sparks from welding and grinding equipment, carelessly discarded smoking materials, hot vehicle pollution control equipment and arson.
Texas Forest Service assigns a high priority to year-round wildfire prevention activities that reduce risks to citizens and property.
Because wildfires in Texas primarily result from the actions of people, wildfire prevention campaigns targeting people-caused wildfires can significantly reduce the number of wildfires and wildfire losses.
A three-step approach to fire prevention can focus prevention efforts.
Texas Forest Service prevention specialists use radio, television, print and web-based products along with local outreach programs to increase wildfire awareness and deliver fire safety messages keyed to local fire causes.
Local involvement when designing and delivering these programs is essential.
Texas Forest Service also works with local and county officials to keep them informed of fire danger and the likelihood of large damaging wildfires.
The Texas Forest Service bases its fire prevention efforts on local assessments and analysis of fire risks and works to implement prevention campaigns prior to specific weather-related events or a developing fire season.
Unsafe Debris Burning A Special Concern
Texas Forest Service focuses special attention on reducing unsafe debris burning. Firefighters across the state cite inadequate fire breaks and failure to stay with outdoor fires as the two most common reasons for escaped fires.
To help keep the public informed about the risks of outdoor burning, the agency maintains information on its website about wildfire risk and about county burn bans.
The Texas Forest Service also actively encourages public compliance with burn bans. The Outdoor Burning Ban legislation is specific on how local entities inact the bans.
A little known fact of which far too few people are aware is that a burning ban doesn't have to be in effect for outdoor burning to be illegal.
Negligently allowing your fire to escape onto someone else's property is a Class C misdemeanor offense the same as violation of a burn ban that is punishable by a fine up to $500.
Deliberately setting fire to someone else's property is arson, which is a felony offense punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of from 2 years to 99 years in prison.
Information on outdoor burning regulations pertaining to the control of air pollution from visible emissions and particulate matter is available from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.