Texas officials urge caution over Memorial Day weekend

Monday, May 21, 2012 - 10:50am

Texans are urged to use caution while celebrating the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend – and when doing any outdoor activity that can cause a spark.

Although many areas have received significant rainfall, much of the state is experiencing some level of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

On Memorial Day weekend last year, local fire departments and Texas Forest Service responded to 363 fires that burned almost 18,000 acres. Almost half of those fires were determined to have started by preventable causes such as campfires or debris burning. Eighteen homes and 35 other structures were destroyed over the holiday weekend.

It doesn’t take much to ignite a potentially devastating wildfire. Always check with local government or fire department officials to make sure outdoor cooking and campfires are allowed in your county — and be sure to comply with all restrictions.

Memorial Day Safety Tips:
• When barbecuing, never leave a grill unattended. Locate the grill away from your home and any combustible materials.
• Clear away grass, leaves and other debris within a 10-foot perimeter of any campfire or barbecue grill.
• Ensure all campfires and barbecue coals are completely extinguished before leaving.
• Never use gasoline to start a barbecue.
• Have water on hand just in case. If a fire does start, call 911 immediately.
• Remember you are responsible for any fire you start and any associated cost or damage that fire may cause.

You can use Texas Forest Service resources to create a wildfire action plan for your home.

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