Extreme weather conditions increase danger of wildfire.
The Hays County area is still located within a fire danger zone, whether or not a burn ban is in effect. All outdoor combustibles may start fires.
Extreme caution is advised.
To contact the Office Of Emergency Management and Hays County Fire Marshall's Office, call 512-393-7721.
Please report illegal burning to 911.
Extreme conditions continue in Hays County and Central Texas has been experiencing windy and dry conditions. With or without an executive order in place for Hays County, use of combustible materials outdoors in breezy, extreme heat conditions is unwise. This includes welding, fireworks of any type or description, and any other activity that could result in a fire.
Occasionally, a false sense of safety after a rain may spur burning activity that can threaten life and property within minutes. Welding, fireworks of any type or description, fires near homes or trees, and any other outdoor fire activity can always result in a fire that quickly explodes out of control.
In the most destructive year for wildfires in Texas, 2011 has already seen thousands of families in central Texas lose their homes and more. Bastrop, Steiner Ranch, Hamilton Pool, the list goes on and we are still experiencing extreme drought conditions that favor more massively scaled disasters.
Until this year, mostly local fires like that destroying 2 structures and threatening more on Mail Route Road, between Wimberley and Canyon Lake have raised alarms. This fire called out 25 firefighters from Canyon Lake, Spring Branch, Wimberley and South Hays Fire Departments.
Burning trash and even cigarette butts tossed out truck windows can cause instant combustion under current conditions. Burn bans are regularly issued in the hope of preventing this scene in Wimberley, but the best prevention is common sense.
Hill Country firefighters battle wildfires that rip through thousands of acres and threaten Hill Country life and property. A Hill Country fire east of Wimberley near Bastrop destroyed more than 28 homes, 17 businesses and more than 1,500 acres of land. Those returning were greeted with melted fences, scorched land and smoke rising from the ground.
The deadly combination of drought and/or excessive heat and breezy days create conditions where any flame may ignite a wildfire that quickly burns out of control. More than once, trash burning outside has caused raging wildfires in Texas. One Wimberley couple discovered that leaving an outdoor barbeque cooking overnight resulted in their home in flames and fire spreading to neighboring homes. Despite very occasional rainfalls, the Hill Country remains in extreme fire danger.
Any extended weather pattern of dry days relieved by only isolated showers leaves grasses and other vegetation much drier than normal, susceptible to unexpected flare-ups from cigarette butts or any activity that involves even the smallest flame. The result: without significant widespread, long-duration rains, Texas firefighters must plan for a growing threat of wildfires.
Tom Spencer, wildfire risk assessment coordinator with Texas Forest Service noted that "...accidental fires due to escaped debris burning continue to be the primary cause of wildfires... Sparks-producing equipment, hot vehicle exhaust systems and careless disposal of smoking materials also cause many wildfires."
Burn bans have undoubtedly saved many lives in the last few years, and have so far helped prevent such destructive incidents as these reported by the Austin American-Statesman:
"Wildfires in three Hill Country counties were largely contained Saturday after killing one man, injuring two firefighters, threatening dozens of homes and destroying more than 6,000 acres.
In Uvalde County, where a burn ban had been lifted, fires caused by burning debris destroyed 2,000 acres near Utopia and 2,500 acres near Montell, Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Traci Weaver said.
A ranch hand was found dead next to his bulldozer Friday night after trying to protect his property from fast-moving flames near Montell.
About 55 miles southeast of Utopia, where a burn ban was in effect, fire burned 400 acres and injured two firefighters Friday.
That fire started as two, one caused by someone burning cactus needles and the other by a welder, Weaver said.
In Hunt, in Kerr County, about 140 miles west of Austin, a fire that began Friday at the Guadalupe Ranch had destroyed 1,100 acres by early Saturday morning. Winds made it difficult to stay ahead of the blaze.
"The fire moved so fast, we couldn't do anything but not get in the way," Hunt volunteer firefighter Dutch Hintze said." (Austin American-Statesman, April 9, 2006)
When acting under an extreme fire alert, officials in Hays County will issue large fines to anyone burning outside or using fireworks of any kind. At all times, individuals are responsible for any actions that may cause fires.
Proper disposal of cigarettes is included...a burning cigarette butt flung carelessly from a vehicle can start a fire in moments during these extreme conditions and qualifies as a combustible material. Do not throw cigarettes out a vehicle window.
The Texas Forest Service And United States Forest Service indicate fire danger has reached very high to extreme levels over the last months. These fire danger levels indicate an enhanced potential for fires to ignite easier, spread faster, and be more difficult to control.
RELATED NEWS AND RESOURCES
Keep an Eye on Fire Weather
The National Weather Service says more wind, higher temperatures, and drought conditions all contribute to extreme fire danger. Check NOAA for red flag warnings and other fire-related weather.Weather for the Wimberley Area