Tips to stay safe from disaster during droughts, burn bans

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Monday, August 10, 2015

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- While many of us finally saw some rain this week, Texas is still in a drought. That means the risk of fire is high.

Over 50 percent of the state is now facing drought conditions, with some in the moderate to severe category. Now we are talking to fire marshals to see how you can stay safe until conditions improve

Don't let the rain earlier this week fool you, Texas is still dry.

"We've had for all intense of purposes a new term called flash drought," Montgomery County fire marshal Jimmy Williams said. "Over the last month or so, we've had a lot of heavy rains early in the spring, and then in June, the rains just stopped. And from that point on we haven't had any rainfall at all. So we have seen our drought index go from a very wet condition to very dry conditions in really record time."

And even with the chance of rain in the forecast, the threat of wildfires continue to increase.

"Temperatures are going up, we've recently increased the fire danger from moderate to high, and now to very high," said Harris County fire marshal Mike Montgomery said.

And fire officials say without significant rainfall, those bans will continue.

"So to get back to zero, or full saturated, we would need a six and a half inches of rain," Williams said.

And while each county has its own concerns, fire marshals use team work to keep the public safe.

"Fire marshals work together very well to make sure that we're communicating, sharing information especially in a fire danger situation like we have now," Montgomery said.

You can also do your part to help out by knowing simple things, like being aware that lawnmower blades can spark a grassfire, and grilling on a windy day is dangerous.

"The best thing we can do is ask folks not to burn, honor the burn bans," Williams said.

Careless burning is still the number one cause for starting wildfires, and even with a few days of rain, it's not enough to keep a fire from burning out of control.

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