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Drought threatens Central Texas with wildfires, Forest Service prepares

POSTED: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - 2:40pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:54am

MCGREGOR -- While fires are torching parts of Texas, the Texas Forest Service is doing what it can to prepare for any fires here in Central Texas.

Firefighters from around the country have traveled to McGregor to help protect us while local firefighters are battling blazes in other parts of Texas.

Capt. Jake Botts is one of those who came here from California. He says no area can go unguarded.

"For an extended period of time, with no moisture, and these winds that you get here in Central and West Texas, it just takes a small ignition source, and you're going to have a horrendous fire," said Botts.

You can see the signs all around in the dusty, dried-up fields. Tall, dry grass litters McGregor like a timber box waiting to be ignited. Firefighters say the ground is still very dry, and when winds pick up, fires can spread fast.

Even with chances of rain in the forecast, the Forest Service's dozer operator, Randy Barefoot, says it won't immediately fix the problem.

"It takes it a long time for it to get this dry. One rain is not going to make it okay for people to get out and start burning. You know, it's going to take a while," said Barefoot.

Mary Kay Hicks has dealt first-hand with the wildfires and says if you think it can't happen to you, think again.

"Most of this is carelessness. Pulling over on tall grass, hot catalytic converters can start fires. So be extremely careful with any welding, any outdoor burning, postpone it until the weather gets better," said Hicks.

Hicks says this drought is expected to last well into the summer, and residents should prepare on all levels.

Hicks says to clear all brush and debris away from your home. Also, remember to make an escape plan for you and your family in case of a mandatory evacuation.

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