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- Warm, dry week increases wildfire threat for Hill Country
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Now is not the time to burn anything outside as gusty winds and wintry weather raise the risk of wildfires today and possibly Friday for much of South Central Texas.
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory in effect from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today for San Antonio and surrounding areas. Meteorologist Melissa Huffman said winds gusting to 40 miles per hour could spread even small flames rapidly.
Red flag warnings have been issued for Val Verde, Kinney, Uvalde, Maverick, Zavala, Frio, and Dimmit counties, where sustained winds around 30 mph with gusts up to 50 are expected.
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Bexar County Fire Marshal Chris Lopez advised residents not to burn any household waste, or do anything that could cause sparks.
“Although we have had some wet weather, this has caused an abundance of grass and woody grow,” he said. “The recent freezing temperatures have killed this growth and turned them into fuel sources for fire.”
Huffman said people should not throw out cigarette butts that could ignite dry grass.
Other hazards are the sparks from unsecured trailer chains that drag on roads and the heat from recently driven cars parked on dry grass.
Low humidity raises the fire danger.
“Those freezes and drying period have cured or really made our grass here super dry,” Huffman said. “It’s not till we get back into spring that grass begins to hold moisture.”
People who burn fallen leaves are advised to wait until later this weekend. Anyone who has already started to burn a pile is asked to make sure it has been completely extinguished before the winds kick up.
San Antonio Transportation and Capital Improvements said via social media that people can call 311 to report fallen trees and power outages.
The wintry weather could also bring snow: up to an inch in Burnet and Llano counties.
Some people will be “excited to hear the potential for flurries or snow for the Hill Country,” Huffman said, “but in the San Antonio area, we want them to be aware that any kind of outdoor burning is incredibly dangerous tomorrow.”