COLLEGE STATION, Texas—This Memorial Day, Texas A&M Forest Service encourages Texans to protect our great state by being mindful of activities that may start a wildfire. The start of summer is marked by vacations, outdoor activities like camping and grilling and celebrating holidays with family and friends – all of which could lead to sparking a wildfire.
Between 2017 and 2021, Texas A&M Forest Service responded to 3,682 wildfires burning 1.4 million acres. Almost half of these wildfires occurred during the summer months, where the majority were caused by humans and their activities.
In Texas, 9 out of 10 wildfires are human-caused and completely preventable. The most common causes of wildfire ignitions during the summer months are debris burning and equipment use, which includes parking in dry grass and dragging trailer chains.
“Texas A&M Forest Service encourages all residents to stay safe during the holiday weekend,” said Karen Stafford, Texas A&M Forest Service Wildfire Prevention Program Coordinator. “Every Texan has a role to play in protecting our state from wildfires and preventing any new ignitions. Remember to do your part, and don’t let a wildfire start.”
While some portions of the state have received rainfall recently, some regions have not received any significant precipitation. The hot, dry summer months will continue to intensify drought conditions and support wildfire ignitions.
“The high summer temperatures across the state and an abundance of grass, brush and other dry vegetation can quickly turn an unintended spark into a wildfire,” says Stafford. “Be mindful of conditions and cautious of your outdoor activities that may cause a spark.”
Some simple tips to help avoid accidently starting a wildfire this Memorial Day weekend include:
- Park in designated spaces and avoid driving over and parking on dry grass—the heat from your vehicle can easily ignite the grass.
- Always check with local officials for burn bans or other outdoor burning restrictions. Each county in Texas sets and lifts their own burn bans. Make sure you know your county’s burn ban status and if it restricts open flames or other heat-causing activities such as using charcoal. View the latest burn ban map here: https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/burnbans/.
- When using a cooking fire or campfire, never leave it unattended. Always make sure it is completely out by drowning it with water, stirring it and feeling to ensure that it is out cold before you leave.
- If pulling a boat or camper, make sure the tow chains are properly connected and not dragging on the roadway creating sparks.
- Carry a fire extinguisher with you at all times in case a fire ignites near you.
For more information on preventing wildfires this summer, please visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/summerwildfires/.