San Marcos at High Risk for Wildfires

Anyone who has spent even a few minutes outside within the last few minutes knows it’s hot in San Marcos. We’ve experienced weeks of record high temperatures without any rain to help cool things off. The weather is uncomfortable at best, and it’s also putting us at risk for wildfires.

The San Marcos Fire Department assisted with the Oak Grove Fire, which started August 5, 2023.The Texas A&M Forest Service, one of state’s lead agencies for wildfire response, increased the Texas Wildland Fire Preparedness Level to level four out of five, an assessment that takes conditions like vegetative fuels, weather conditions, and current and expected wildfire activity into account. That means Texas has experienced a high volume of fires that are resistant to control, and environmental conditions are ripe to support increased wildfire activity that would require a heavy commitment of state and local resources.

 The I-35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio, including San Marcos, is one of the areas across the state that the Texas A&M Forest Service has labeled as having among the highest risk for wildfires thanks to the combination of high temperatures, dry vegetation, and windy conditions we’ve experienced.

We’ve already seen wildfires impact the community this summer. On August 10, the Hays County Office of Emergency Management announced that the Oak Grove Fire was 100% contained. The fire started Saturday, August 5, and burned approximately 400 acres. One home was lost, but there were no fatalities.

The Hays County Fire Marshal determined that the Oak Grove fire was started accidentally and was caused by equipment use. According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, half of all wildfires across the state are caused by burning debris and equipment use, which includes fires sparked by vehicles. 

Residents are encouraged to help prevent wildfires by following simple safety tips, including:

  • Obey local fire restrictions and avoid outdoor burning. Hays County is currently under a burn ban.
  • Operate equipment and vehicles safely. Do not drag tow chains and keep a lookout for sparks. When using tools like welding equipment, saws, and chainsaws, have water nearby and avoid setting the tools down in the grass or near law debris.
  • Exercise caution when parking a car near grass, as the heat can cause it to ignite.

As the risk of wildfires continues, it’s important that everyone take steps to prepare. Plan an evacuation route and have a kit packed with essentials like water, a flashlight, and multi-use tools. Homeowners are encouraged to protect their property with fire-resistant landscaping, using fire-resistant construction material for roofs, windows, and walls, and clearing street signs, roads, or driveways to keep structures accessible to first responders.

Residents throughout Hays County are also urged to sign up for free emergency alerts through Warn Central Texas. In the event of an emergency, notification about evacuations, threats, and resources will be sent straight to the phone number or email address provided during registration. 

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