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We all need to know what causes wildfires throughout Texas, and learning the facts will help us prevent fires like what's been happening in the Big Country with the Mesquite HeatFire. I've spoken with a couple of fire chiefs from the Volunteer Fire Departments that are battling the blaze. They are telling me that we can avoid a lot of these wildfires.

One of the first fire chiefs I spoke with this week is Fire Chief Gary Young with the Ecca Volunteer Fire Department. Young reached out and asked if we could alert people to stay away from the areas where they are fighting fires.

While I had Chief Gary on the phone, I asked "what causes these wildfires and what can we Texans do to avoid any more of these range fires?" First off he said, "the list ain't short, but it's not long either and if we can avoid these, we all will live a much happier and safer life here in West Texas."

Chief Young went on to explain, "besides flicking cigarette butts out of car windows here are seven common causes."

  • #1 We really can't avoid it because it's direct lightning strikes to the ground during thunderstorms.
  • #2 Outdoor cooking especially when there is a burn ban in effect throughout much of West Texas. Young says "it doesn't matter if it's charcoal, firewood, pellets or even a gas grill they can all cause grass fires in some way"
  • #3 Electric fences, I would have never thought of that but, they must be maintained so that dry grass and tall weeds are not ignited by the hotwires.
  • #4 We hear about this all the time, welding, grinding, and metal cutting, especially when fixing things in a pasture or repairing fence lines and gates.
  • #5 This one struck me by surprise. Retainer chains when pulling a trailer. The chains are dragging the ground causing sparks and starting roadside fires.
  • #6 Driving vehicles in tall, dry, grassy areas where the dry vegetation touches the car's exhaust, catalytic converter, or the hot engine.
  • #7 When I reached out to the Texas SW Cattle Raisers Association one of their Rangers reminded me that tire blowouts can also cause fires. He explained that when the rubber explodes and comes flying off of a wheel and lands on the side of the road on dry grass the embedded steel belts on the hot tire pieces can start a grass fire.

It's knowing these simple facts that can help us all be safe. Remember we are under a no burn ban and we must all keep an eye out for our neighbors, family, and friends.

In closing, If you would like to help our local area Volunteer Fire departments CLICK HERE to know where to go and how to give. In closing, THANK YOU to all those that have responded to all the fires and the Mesquite Heat fire as well.

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