Letter from the Chief

                                                                                                                                                    The Dragon’s Not Gone, Just Asleep.

By Mark Sides, Chief,

Above average temperatures, large amounts of dry fuels, low relative humidity, and strong winds again set the stage where a careless spark, a lightning strike, or a arcing power line are the opening number in a Texas Firestorm. 
On February 25, 2008 Robert Lee almost learned the meaning of the phrase Urban-Wildland Interface the hard way.  High winds caused arcing in overhead power lines.  Temps in the upper seventies, coupled with 25 mph winds, and high fuel loads turned a few small sparks into a wildfire that destroyed several homes and outbuildings and consumed approximately 20,000 acres of rangeland.   This fire was just one of the 26 wildland fires occurring on that day.
More recently, on February 27, 2011, Barnhart, Matador, and portions of Colorado City were evacuated due to wildland fires.
Robert Lee, Bronte and outlying communities are no different from other rural Texas towns where rangeland, pastures, and CRP may be near or immediately adjacent to homes and businesses.

These are a few simple items that will reduce the chances of your home going up in smoke:

1)      Routinely clean gutters, especially in the fall.  Keep your yard clean of leaves, limbs, and dead grass.

2)      Remove tree limbs that extend over the eaves of the roof or within 10-15 feet of the chimney

3)      Keep your grass mowed to a 4” height or less, and if possible, well watered during periods of extreme drought.  Prune tree branches at least 10 feet from the ground.

4)      Landscape using deciduous trees and shrubs such as oaks, agarito, eastern redbud, desert willow, and sages.  Avoid junipers, pines, and other evergreens unless they are planted 100 feet or further from the house. 

5)      Make sure your house number and street number are clearly posted to provide firefighters easy identification.

6)      Maintain at least 30 feet of open space between your home and the surrounding brush line or CRP field. 

7)      Avoid concentrations of shrubbery or ornamental grasses up against the house.

8)      Have garden hoses connected at all times and long enough to reach around the house.

9)      Store firewood at least 15 to 30 feet away from the house.

10)  Maintain roads and entrances to provide easy access and adequate turnaround space for emergency equipment.

11)  Exercise extreme caution and keep a reliable, pressurized water source handy when doing any outdoor burning or welding.

12)   Don’t allow tall grass and debris to accumulate against your house or under your porch or deck.

These items alone may not guarantee that your home will survive, but they will give your home and responding firefighters a fighting chance.