The potential exists for this year to be a repeat of 2011.
A severe shortage of rain — unofficial amounts at PK Lake show just under 4 inches for the year — 90-degree days, strong dry winds and vegetation already showing the effects of the drought means everyone needs to be careful.
While the county is under a burn ban, the potential still exists for a major fire. Unattended barbecue grills, smokers with coals being towed down the highway, outdoor welding and grinding and campfires can all lead to a dangerous situation.
It is also time for property owners to think in terms of saving their homes in the event of a fire.
Keeping weeds and shrubs away from buildings, trimming tree limbs to reduce “ladder” fuels, moving shrubs away from the house, storing flammable fuels away from the house and placing screens over foundation and attic openings all help.
At PK, outside watering is already restricted to night hours and, if the lakes continue to drop, more restrictions will be in place meaning those shrubs against the house could die making them easier to burn.
Firefighters can help prepare for a wildfire. They know what to look for, they know how to mitigate potential problems and are as close as a telephone call or email.
The county fire marshal can help homeowners contact the local fire department. Not only are the departments there to help put out fires, they can also help prevent a disaster from overtaking a home.
But the time to act is now, not when a wildfire is bearing down. When that happens, it is time to leave … and the time to know what to take and be prepared in also now.
If smoke is seen, call the Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Office at 940-659-2085. A small fire is much easier to extinguish than a wildland fire.