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Latest brush fire highlights concerns

Posted at 5:42 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 19:17:20-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The brush fire threat heated up again Friday, but this fire came dangerously close to becoming an explosive situation.

Firefighters responded to a brush fire along State Hwy. 44 near Rand Morgan Drive this morning. The fire destroyed a chicken coop, a travel trailer, and a shed, but firefighters put it out before it could reach nearby propane tanks. Firefighters believe this fire started in the travel trailer.

A dry winter, combined with windy days, continues to be a dangerous mix for the Coastal Bend.

"These dry conditions, especially these windy, dry conditions can lead to rapid spread of the fire," said Corpus Christi Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Jim DeVisser.

DeVisser said every season is fire season in South Texas, but an especially dry start to this year has sparked a concerning trend.

"We've already had some good-size brush fires this year," DeVisser said. "We've had a couple on the island."

Fire danger normally is highest during the heat of summer, but when the wind blows, fire spreads quickly no matter the season.

"Something that's a 5'x5' brush fire, when it's super-dry out, and windy, can quickly become a 500'x500' or a five-mile by five-mile fire," DeVisser said.

According to DeVisser, departments regularly train in windy conditions. While he believes many brush fires aren't easily prevented, that doesn't mean the public can't do its part as well.

"People just have to be mindful that it's that much easier to start a fire when everything is dry and super windy," DeVisser said.

In the past, Nueces Co. commissioners have issued outdoor burn bans, but currently, we don't meet conditions for one. So will these conditions lead to an earlier-than-usual burn ban?

"That's up to the county, and they do a very good job of (deciding) when the appropriate time is for a ban," DeVisser said.

So what are the conditions for a burn ban? When the drought index averages over 500, county-wide, emergency managers can recommend one. Friday's average index in Nueces Co. was 390.9.