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County fire marshal, forest service offer tips to protect homes from wildfires

Eastland Complex wildfire burns near Rising Star, Eastland County, Texas, U.S. March 17, 2022 in this still image obtained from a social media video. Content filmed March 17, 2022. Twitter/@johnnyhaysmd via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Johnny Hays
Eastland Complex wildfire in March 2022.

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Bexar County Fire Marshal Chris Lopez urged Bexar County residents to take steps to protect their homes from wildfires as fire prone conditions worsen due to drought.

Lopez recently explained to county commissioners what residents should be doing around their homes, especially if they live near dry grassy, brushy or wooded areas.

"You know, we want to make sure they are not keeping piles of wood up against their home. That they're not storing any type of device that you cook with or either propane cylinders or anything like that up against their home, anything that could, maybe not even cause the fire, but make it worse if a fire does occur," he said.

Lopez said rural residents need to keep vegetation trimmed and maintain a margin of green space around their homes.

"Keep your grass short and if you can and you're able to, water the area around your home and make sure the fire is not going to make it to your residence," he said.

Lopez said vehicles are the source of some wildfires. Sparks from tire blowouts can trigger a roadside fire, so he suggested checking the condition of tires before hitting the road.

He added that hot catalytic converters under a lot of vehicles can start a blaze after they come into contact with dry grass.

"I mean, it's into the thousands of degrees wherever you're going down the road with some of these catalytic converters," he said.

Chains dragging from trailers can bang against the road and spark a wildfire. Some construction equipment was blamed for sparking a recent grass fire that consumed a home in northern Bexar County.

County commissioners last week approved a 90-day ban on outdoor burning or until dry conditions improve. The fire marshal said poorly managed outdoor burning is blamed for most local wildfires along with tossed cigarette butts.

And he said some fires are still set intentionally.

For more information on wildfire safety, check out the Texas Forest Service brochure on Firewise Landscaping in Texas or the Ready, Set, GO! Action Guide.

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