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Local fire officials say the number of wildfires this year has been down compared to years past, and with spring just around the corner, the Crossroads area could enjoy a rather peaceful season to come.
â€śIt's actually pretty surprising,â€ť Howard County Volunteer Fire Chief Tommy Sullivan said. â€śLast year at this time, was a pretty slow year for us. However, this year we're seeing even fewer fires. The average right now is about one wildfire per week, which is pretty amazing.â€ť
Sullivan attributes much of the calm to area residents being â€śfire wiseâ€ť and not taking chances when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
â€śOn the days when the humidity has dipped below 10 percent and the danger is really high, people seem to be playing it smart. I feel like that's really helped us a lot,â€ť Sullivan said. â€śRight now, the fire danger level is severe, but it hasn't moved into the extreme level, so we've been pretty fortunate, all the way around.â€ť
With just a little more than a week until spring, Sullivan said the Crossroads area could potentially enjoy an even longer stretch of good luck when it comes to wildfires.
â€śWe're hoping spring will bring some rains,â€ť he said. â€śIf we can make it until then without any major problems, we could be looking at a rather quiet start to the year. However, we're due for one more freeze between now and then, so we're not out of the woods yet.â€ť
Sullivan said a freeze now would increase the danger of wildfires until the spring rains make their way into the Howard County area.
â€śIf we get another freeze, then all of the vegetation that has greened-up recently will be killed off, providing more fuel for wildfires,â€ť he said. â€śHowever, the spring rains should help counter that. It's just going to be a matter of playing things safe in the meantime. It really comes down to folks being fire wise and not taking chances.â€ť
Sullivan encouraged residents to do what they can to lessen the chance of their home being destroyed by a wildfire.
â€śOne of the most important things they can do is clear at least a 50-feet area around their house. Personally, with the high winds we have out here in West Texas, I suggest a 100-feet circle,â€ť Sullivan said. â€śMake sure the grass is scalped down as low as you can get it within that area, because fire can move really fast through it.
â€śAlso, if you have trees, make sure they aren't touching. You don't want the fire to be able to jump from one tree or bush to the next.â€ť