RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — With high temperatures across the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas A&M Forest Service said the RGV is at high risk for wildfires. The forest service as well as local officials explained what people can do to prevent fires.
Hidalgo County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricardo Saldaña said the department is seeing an uptick in brush and grass fires.
“We’ve had several major incidents involving grass fire junkyard fires.” Saldaña said, “one of the big critical things is the weather, our weather has played a big factor with all of this. It’s starting to dry up our farm and ranch lands.”
Texas A&M Forest Services Program Specialist Heather Gonzales said humidity levels, higher wind speeds, and dry vegetation are factors that could contribute to wildfires.
“There is extremely dry vegetation there. We are experiencing drought conditions and just with that coupled with what we’re expecting for the next few days, this week the potential for fire activity is there,” said Gonzales.
Saldaña advises residents to use caution when burning anything because of how dry the conditions are.
“If you’re going to be doing any type of outdoor burning, make sure you have some type of device, rather it is a water tank or pump. Also, you want to plow or disc around to avoid any type of fire spreading,” said Saldaña.
Saldaña said one common cause of wildfires in South Texas is vehicles.
“The incident that occurred last week in Falfurrias that burned almost 6,000 acres was caused by a vehicle in the catalytic converter driving in high grass, we want to avoid that,” said Saldaña.
He urged that drivers should also be careful when hauling anything.
“You’re driving along the highway, you’re pulling the trailer, making sure the chains are secure, those are things that also spark a fire,” he said.
Saldaña said more resources are going into battling and preventing these fires.
“What is happening right now is we are putting a lot of resources on these fires because our climate is also extremely dangerous for firefighters fighting these wildfires so we need to rotate them quite often and get them rehydrated,” he added.