Though Texas saw record rainfall in the month of May, fire season is still in full swing. South Central Texas in particular has seen a significant surge in wildland fires. In the last seven days, there have been 268 fires reported with 12,911 acres burned. The largest of these fires was the Hidden Pines Fire in Bastrop County which consumed 4,582 acres and destroyed 68 homes.
Why has Texas seen an increase in fire activity in recent weeks? A wet spring brought significant grass growth to much of the region. Since June, temperatures have been normal to slightly above normal, while relative humidity levels have been below normal. This has allowed new grass growth to become very dry and prone to ignition. Dry grass can be ignited by the smallest of heat sources such as vehicle exhaust pipes, emergency flares, and cigarettes. Once grass has started to burn, it can rapidly spread to surrounding vegetation and structures. These fast moving grass fires become difficult for firefighters to contain due to their rate of spread and unpredictability. Fortunately, weather forecasts are predicting cool and rainy conditions for the next several days, allowing firefighters a much needed break.