Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

January 24, 2014

Danger ahead

Fires numerous as temperature drops

Athens — Fire departments in Henderson County have sped to several blazes in recent days as winter conditions are prime for both indoor and outdoor fires.

Athens Fire Marshal Ronnie Denton, whose department responded to a house fire that destroyed a home on North Prairieville Street on Saturday that started in the kitchen, said cooking tops the list of causes for house fires. That’s followed by heating fires.

“Be sure space heaters are at least three feet from furniture, or anything that might catch fire,” Denton said.

The National Fire Protection Association reports heating is the second leading cause of home fire deaths, behind smoking, and the second leading cause of home fire injuries. In 2007-2011, most home-heating fire deaths (81 percent) and injuries (70 percent) involved stationary or portable space heaters.

Outside the home, dry weather and high winds provide perfect conditions for a rash of grass fires. Most of the vegetation is dead, and can’t hold any moisture. Several sizable grass fires have been reported in the county in recent days. On Wednesday afternoon, firefighters south of Athens were dispatched to a pasture blaze on Mill Run Road that threatened a house. The Southside Volunteer Fire Department was first on the scene.  The Malakoff and Caney City departments also responded.

Fire Marshal Shane Renberg said several small grass fires were recorded in Henderson County on Wednesday. Fortunately, winds were light, enabling the firefighters to stop them before they spread.

The Texas Forest Service fire danger map for Wednesday showed moderate danger for East Texas Counties. The increase in wind enhanced the danger on Thursday.  The east side of Henderson County, where several grass fires have been reported in the past week, was placed in the high-danger category.

The possibility of a burn ban in Henderson County remains low, because the Keetch-Byrum which measures moisture in the soil places Henderson County at less than 200. The Commissioners Court usually installs a burn ban after the county average reaches 570.

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