Continuing drought conditions, the approaching holiday season and the first heavy freeze of the year have local emergency officials issuing a warning.

Be careful not to start any fires. They’re more likely to be larger and more dangerous because of the extremely dry conditions.

Eric Meyers Jr., Navarro County’s emergency management coordinator, and James Palos, City of Corsicana fire marshal, both urged caution by everyone — both in area cities and in the rural parts of the county.

“We’re still in what is ... an extreme drought, according to (national) drought indexes,” Meyers said Wednesday.

He noted the presence of extremely little moisture and very dry plant life. Meyers also pointed to the season’s first heavy freeze expected Wednesday night as a factor that won’t help.

“Now we’ll have dead foliage to go along with very dry foliage,” he said.

Meyers said the burn ban for the county that has been in effect since early July will certainly continue, perhaps into the early portion of next year.

Palos noted other concerns the area will begin facing in the next few weeks.

The holidays.

“The holiday season is coming, the cold snap is coming in and (people) will start using their fireplaces,” Palos said. “Candles and decorative lighting will begin to go up.”

He said those fond of candles and wicks should make sure to use a proper holder when burning the aromatic sticks and make sure to put them out before bedtime.

Palos said everyone should have their chimneys and fireplaces inspected and cleaned. They should burn only natural wood or the artificial logs made specifically for fireplaces; don’t use a lot of paper or other such items as fuel.

Space heaters are exactly that, he said, heaters that need space. Whether electric, oil-fueled or gas burning, space heaters should have three feet of clearance in all directions.

Palos said cigarette smokers should put out their butts in ashtrays inside their vehicles and don’t throw them out the windows to start fires miles behind them as they travel away.

Deer hunters should be wary of parking their vehicles in fields with high grass. Hot mufflers and pipes can start that dry vegetation on fire, ruining land and likely severely damaging the vehicle.

Out the county, Meyers said the area likely doesn’t have to fear wildfires of the magnitude seen in California and the Northwest in recent years. The terrain and situation is just different here, he said.

“We have easier access for fire fighting efforts,” Meyers said. “Where they have dense forests and deep plant life ... heavy growth that hasn’t been mitigated ... we tend to see more pastures and places where mitigation efforts like mowing have taken place.”

And another difference.

“Here, also, you have such a high population of volunteer firefighters ... more so than even in surrounding counties,” Meyers added. “In the Northwest, you see state and national forest service fire fighting efforts. Here you see volunteer firefighters.”

But he is still asking, even urging, everyone here to be very careful in these dry conditions.

“And when you see on local television or hear on local radio that we’re in a ‘red flag’ situation ... don’t even do trash burning in an approved burn barrel,” he said. “Put it off for a few days.”

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Loyd Cook may be contacted via e-mail at loydcook@corsicanadailysun.com

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