Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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August 24, 2013

FIRE: Labor Day holiday a prime time for wildfires

COLLEGE STATION – With Labor Day drawing near, many Texans are planning to spend some time outside, soaking up the last of the summer sun. But Texas A&M Forest Service is urging residents to celebrate carefully as the summer wildfire activity is typically at its highest over the holiday weekend.

The primary areas of concern include the Hill Country, as well as Central and East Texas, where timber and brush are rapidly drying out. But just because you live outside the danger zones doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful.

Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department Head Tom Spencer warned the public to use caution when doing anything outside that could cause a spark.

“Labor Day weekend is the peak of summer fire activity, when everything is at its driest due to the summer heat,” Spencer said. “People just need to be aware. Don’t let a wildfire ruin the holiday weekend.”

It was during Labor Day weekend in 2011 that the most destructive wildfire in state history was recorded. The Bastrop County Complex Fire — one of just 516 wildfires that state and local firefighters responded to that weekend — burned for 37 days, scorching more than 32,000 acres and destroying 1,660 homes.

Keep the following tips in mind to ensure you and your family have a safe Labor Day weekend:

• Check with your county judge for current burn bans.

• Be aware when grilling on wooden decks or in dry grass.

• Keep water handy in case of fire.

• When transporting portable pits, be sure the fire is extinguished.

• Completely extinguish all smoking materials.

• Remember your vehicle’s exhaust system can ignite a fire when driving through or stopped in dry vegetation.

 • Report all fires immediately to 911.

For more information on preparing for wildfires, visit: Texasfirewise.com

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