December is a time when numerous traditions are renewed, most of them focused around the Christmas celebration. But Texas weather also has its own tradition: cold, windy and often dry conditions.
Central Texas hardly needs a reminder, but it was late December and early January two years ago that deadly grass fires raced through Callahan, Eastland and other counties. While the drought conditions then were much more serious than what this area is facing today, the threat of serious grass fires continues. Itís a threat that this area seems to face every winter.
Burn bans continue in effect in many area counties, but even in areas where burning is allowed, extreme caution is advised. Rural firefighters are being called out daily to battle potentially major grass fires. Fortunately, their prompt and skilled efforts have so far successfully contained the fires, and if any structures have been damaged, the reports have not been made known.
That is a tribute to those who train to face exactly such situations. But after a wet spring, plenty of vegetation grew this year, and that now is available as fuel for fires. The windy conditions of recent weeks mean a small spark can be spread from a contained area and create a grass fire with the potential of scorching hundreds of acres of land.
During conditions such as these, delaying any burns is prudent, even if a burn ban has not been put into effect. And work involving any equipment that creates sparks needs to be approached with fire prevention as a priority. A few moments of inattention can lead to significant property damage, and possibly the loss of life.