Red flag warning issued due to increased fire danger

March 1, 2011 10:19:35 AM PST
The weather may be gorgeous but it has the potential to be misleading. A lack of substantial rain, dry ground and breezy days can combine for an increased fire danger. The fire marshal says most people don't think a red flag warning means anything to them, until they lose a home or even a loved one to a fire that could have been prevented.

From wildfires, to fires at homes and buildings, our weather is making it very easy for flames to spread. Wind has been a major factor in spreading two Houston fires in just 24 hours. One of those fires killed a 6-year-old boy.

Red flag warnings have gone into effect periodically in Harris County and the surrounding counties because of the combination of sunshine, warm temperatures, low humidity, gusty winds, and a lack of rainfall. Those factors together create a perfect storm for big fires.

So today, the Harris County fire marshal is urging people to stop all outdoor burning activities, especially the burning of trash or yard debris.

"The public can really do a lot during red flag warning days and very simply just don't burn outdoors," said Mike Montgomery with the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office. "If you're burning leaves or trash, please don't do that. Wait until the wind conditions die down. Wait until there's more moisture in the air. Even just a carelessly discarded cigarette in a field can start a really large grass fire."

If you see an unattended fire, notify your local fire department immediately. Even a small fire can spread quickly and threaten people and houses.

If your fire causes damage to property, you could be charged with crimes ranging from a misdemeanor, all the way to arson, which is a Class A felony.