The Texas Forest Service is racing to keep up with wildfires all over the state, in what officials say is the hottest and driest summer they’ve seen in ten years.
As of today, 111 counties in all areas of Texas have been placed under official bans on outdoor burning because of the unrelenting hot and dry conditions. Texas Forest Service risk analyst Tom Spencer says it’s bad out there.
Bans on outdoor burning are issued at the local level, and Spencer says as the dry weather continues, more counties are added to the list almost every day because of the growing number of wildfires. Lightning strikes start many fires, but 90 percent of all fires are started by people, either by accident or design. There are any number of ways to start a fire without intending to.
Spencer says it’s also common for people to start out to do a controlled burn for land clearing and lose control of their fire. Starting a fire with criminal intentions happens, but it’s rare. In any event, Spencer says burning for any reason just isn’t a good idea right now, and people can face stiff fines in counties where outdoor burning is banned. There are also civil liabilities and penalties for starting a fire that damages someone else’s property.