Extreme Fire Danger for Lubbock and Much of West Texas

LUBBOCK, TX - Lubbock and most of the South Plains are in extreme fire danger Tuesday according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.  All of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains were either in very high or extreme fire danger Tuesday.

The Lubbock County Emergency Management Coordinator issued the following statement:  

==========================================

Due to the Critical fire weather conditions present over the South Plains and Lubbock County Tuesday February 28, 2017.

Starting at 8:00 am, Lubbock County in Coordination with Lubbock County Fire Departments will be at Readiness Level II – High Readiness to include:

1.     Alert personnel of possible emergency duties.

2.     Place selected personnel and equipment on standby and prepositioning assets for rapid
          response.

3.     Identify personnel to staff the EOC and Incident Command Post if those facilities are  
     activated.

4.     Prepare to implement inter-local agreements if needed.

These measure are being taken due to Extreme Threat to Lubbock County Citizens and the “extreme”, wildfire potential.

Increased fire activity is a concern due to sustained wind speeds of 30 to 40 mph and Gust to 60 mph combining with above normal seasonal temperatures, single digit relative humidity and dry fuels pose a critical fire threat for Tuesday.

Fire rates of speed in grass fuels could reach 4 miles per hour with flame heights of 10 to 12 feet.  This equates to the flame height of a one story building and traveling the length of a football field in one minute.

Lubbock County does not currently have a Burn Ban in place, but we remind Citizens that no outdoor burning will be allowed in compliance with the State of Texas TCEQ Burn Rules.

This ban is in place on any Red Flag Warning day as issued by the National Weather Service.

How to Prevent Wildland Fire

Human-initiated fires are to blame for a high amount of property damage; loss of wildlife habitat and the lives of humans and animals. Some wildland fires are the result of carelessness or improper habits when engaging in outdoor activities. Familiarizing yourself with appropriate wildland fire preventive measures not only helps you become a more aware individual when it comes to protecting the safety and natural resources in your region, but also helps you better spread the word:

a)    Contact 911 if you notice an unattended or out-of-control fire.

b)    Do not discard cigarettes, matches, and smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere on park grounds. Be certain to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them.

c)     Follow Safe Debris Burning Rules:

When debris burning is allowed, following safe practices will make sure you do not set off a fire you are unable to control. A few tips to consider include: burning one pile at a time; burning only natural vegetation or untreated wood products; burning piles of debris that are at least 50 feet from any structures and 500 feet from any forest slash; removing flammable products from the scene; avoiding the burning of debris when wind conditions are high; and keeping a connected water hose by your side (or at least five gallons of water and a nearby shovel) [6]. You should also never leave a fire unattended.

d)  Practice Proper Ash Disposal:

Wildfires have been known to break out because of the improper disposal of ash that comes from wood stoves, barbeque grills, fireplaces, and outdoor wood boilers. Some piles of ashes have the capacity to hold enough heat to start a fire that will furiously burn for several days. These fires also begin when heated ashes are tossed in dumpsters and trash cans. Before disposing ashes, you should place them in a metal container (never in a container made from paper, plastic, or cardboard). The next step is to wet the ashes, and stir them until they are cold to the touch.

e) Equipment Safety:

A large portion of fires in some areas are caused by equipment and machinery. Malfunctioning parts, constant sparking, electrical weaknesses, and mechanical breakdowns are just some of the factors that aids in equipment-related fires. This is why it is important to perform routine maintenance checks on all machinery and equipment.

f) Monitor Electric Fencing:

Some people are proud owners of an electric fence, which is often used to maintain livestock on farms or keep intruders out. Sometimes, a malfunction in the construction of this type of fence can cause a fire, which possesses the capability to destroy surrounding vegetation and acres of forest. Prevention measures include making sure your fencer is UL approved; the fence wire is away from fire hazards; and the fencer is turner off when not in use.

g) Know Local Regulations:

Before you engage in any burning of debris, you should check local and state regulations, which may require permits. You may even learn that your city or county has “burn ban” restrictions. This is good information to know, so you may help enforce these policies within your own neighborhood to help prevent forest fires.
Follow the TCEQ Burn Rules ordinances when burning yard waste. Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check. Remove all flammables from yard when burning.

We encourage Citizens to learn about the Ready, Set, Go program at wildlandfirersg.org/Resident or video at youtu.be/W-0usQYy9QE

For more information, please contact the Lubbock County Office of Emergency Management at (806) 775-7300 or Like the Lubbock County Emergency Management Facebook Page.

Clinton Thetford
Emergency Management Coordinator
Lubbock County

 


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