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May rains will give way to hot, dry fire season; prevention is key

Preparing for fire season in Central Texas

A 400-acre wildfire in August 2020 didn’t cause as much damage as it could have because residents of The Trails of Horseshoe Bay participate in the Firewise program, which outlines steps property owners can take to reduce fire risks to their homes. Though Firewise is community oriented, individual homeowners can apply some of the same techniques. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

After several days of rain, you might not be thinking about wildfire prevention, but Marble Falls Fire Marshal Thomas Crane definitely is.

“It’s going to get hot, and it’s going to get dry soon,” he said. “It’s fortunate to have water on the ground right now, but it’s going to dry up. And all the grass and brush that’s growing because of it, that could become fuel for a fire.”

The best way to protect a home or structure from a grass or wildfire is to prepare for one. Crane said homeowners should look for potential fire fuels on their properties and take steps to reduce them.

“Keep your lawn mowed. Keep your trees trimmed. Get all the dead leaves out of your gutter because an ember can find those leaves and then your house is on fire,” he said. “Any dried or dead brush, get rid of it.”

He recommends people create a 30-foot space around their homes with limited fuel for fires. This doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of landscaping or trees, but rather managing them better. 

Along with keeping grass and weeds down, Crane said people should trim nearby trees so the lowest branches are at least 10 feet above the ground to reduce the chances they catch on fire.

When landscaping, Crane recommends spreading out trees, bushes, and plants to create open spaces between vegetation to slow a fire’s spread.

These practices do work, said Crane, pointing to the August 2020 wildfire that scorched 400 acres in Horseshoe Bay. While the fire destroyed a Blue Lake subdivision home and damaged another, no homes in nearby The Trails of Horseshoe Bay community were destroyed. 

The Trails is a Firewise community, a program coordinated by the Texas A&M Forest Service to help homeowners protect themselves and their property from wildfires. 

Crane said the steps taken by residents of The Trails protected their homes. For example, a Marble Falls Fire Rescue brush truck crew set up on a residential property in The Trails as the grass fire raced toward it. When it reached the edge of the property, it stopped, allowing the crew to contain that portion of the blaze.

“It didn’t have any fuel to go any farther, so it just stopped there,” he said.

While Firewise is geared toward communities — subdivisions, developments, and cities — individual homeowners can implement the same fire mitigation techniques. 

Another good resource, Crane said, is Ready, Set, Go!

“There’s a lot of good information in there,” he said.

Crane is also available to visit with property owner associations, community organizations, and others regarding wildfire protection and prevention. 

“I’ll be happy to talk to anyone about it,” he added.

Call Crane at 830-693-4060 or your local fire department for more information on wildfire prevention, mitigation, and protection.

daniel@thepicayune.com