Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Marilynn Grossman says 197 of the state's 254 counties have banned all outdoor burning in an effort to stay on top of the fire danger. She says they're dreading the weekend because of the dry conditions and strong winds, especially in the central, north and northeast parts of the state.
"We have to be very very very careful, since the majority of our fires in Texas are human caused, as people get outside and start enjoying the beautiful weather, it also makes more opportunities for fire starts."
Grossman says six fires broke out Thursday in central and north Texas. The biggest was in Hunt County northeast of Dallas, where a fire burned about 300 acres and destroyed one house. To the south in Bell County, a 250 acre fire was finally contained about two miles south of Killeen. She says they're expecting more fires over the weekend, and they wouldn't be so nervous if it would just rain.
"The rain has been almost nonexistent. And all of the grasses, trees, things like that, they're all frozen and dry cured now. So there's a lot of fuel out there to burn. And with the wind and a spark, it takes it takes just seconds to have what would be a manageable fire turn into an uncontrollable fire."
Grossman says the Forest Service has set up emergency management zones in areas where the fire danger is highest, and has firefighters and equipment pre-positioned in those areas so they can make a faster initial attack if a fire starts. Hundreds of firefighters from other states are coming in to help.