The weather is hot and dry and getting worse, a bad combination for firefighters who have been called out repeatedly in recent weeks to battle mostly grass fires.
“The Texas Forest Service’s 14-day forecast indicates we’re getting deeper into the drought,” Travis Eoff, chief of the Early Volunteer Fire Department, said Saturday afternoon. “They track weather and the La Niña situation, and it’s not getting any better. The threat of severe grass fires is going to continue until we get some relief. We might get some showers, but until we get a soaking rain, it’s not going to change.”
Saturday brought another day day with dry winds and temperatures approaching 100 degrees, and firefighters throughout Brown County were summoned to fires in Blanket, Zephyr and north Lake Brownwood — to name a few. Thunderstorms were gathering near sunset, but only scatterered showers, not the soaking rains needed, were expected.
“The fire in Blanket was started because someone was welding, and it just caught the grass on fire,” Eoff said. “There wasn’t much grass to burn, but it was a fire and the Blanket department responded.”
Eoff said even routine actions that people might not consider to be fire threats can cause a blaze during conditions such as Brown County is experiencing.
“Just tossing a cigarette out of car window, or driving a car across tall grass can cause a fire,” Eoff said. “The catalytic converter gets so hot, it can ignite dry grass. It’s these little things that we sometimes forget about that can become problems.”
Brown County Commissioners declared a burn ban on June 16, coincidentally the same day a grass fire that started on the Camp Bowie National Guard Training Facility grounds jumped over onto private property and burned a total of 901 acres. Some 18 area fire departments and numerous other support agencies responded.
In the past week, two major grass fires — the most recent one on Thursday — in Coleman County near the Brown County line have blacked hundreds of acres of pasture and threatened several structures.
Statewide, the Texas Forest Service said it responded to 11 fires covering 713 acres on Friday alone.