Gusty winds, low humidity and dead grass raise wildfire risk during winter fire season
New Waverly Firefighters responded to a number of wildfires over the weekend as clear skies and warmer temperatures prompted many to venture outdoors around Walker County.
Despite recent heavy rains, much of Southeast Texas is in the midst of a typical winter fire season, where fire danger can fluctuate daily due to changing weather patterns. Saturday and Sunday saw clearing skies, along with brisk northwest winds and falling humidity levels, a perfect combination for increased wildfire activity. Vegetation killed off by freezing temperatures does not retain moisture and even 1 or 2 hours of north winds can dry out dead grass to the point where it can be easily ignited.
This weekend’s wildfires were typical of most winter wildfires, burning quickly across open fields, then slowing as the fire front enters heavily wooded areas where brush and timber retain moisture longer and are less prone to ignite. As in the summer wildfire season, the vast majority of wildfires are the result of human activity, with outdoor burning responsible for as much as 90% of all wildfire starts.
While most of this weekend’s fires were relatively small compared to the typical summer season, even a small fire can create substantial damage to structures, vehicles and fences. New Waverly Firefighters responded to the largest fire Sunday afternoon in Crabbs Prairie, west of Huntsville. The fire was contained at just over 13 acres by 3 crews of New Waverly Firefighters, while Crabbs Prairie and Huntsville firefighters were working another simultaneous fire a few miles away.
While there is currently no burn ban in place, residents are reminded to check weather forecasts before attempting to burn. Afternoon winds caught some residents by surprise this weekend, as gusts picked up embers from debris fires and quickly spread out of control. IF you choose to burn, make sure that you have a clear area around the fire, have a water source handy, and stay with your fire until it is completely out.