Houston Catches a Break with Bush Park Wildfire

As noted below, the grassfire that broke out yesterday afternoon at George Bush Park has been all but contained. No evacuations were necessary.

By 7 p.m. HFD had "50 pieces of fire equipment, more than 175 personnel, 4 dozers" working the fire, and they were ready with an aerial drop if needed.

Of course, it remains dry as a tinderbox all thoughout the area, with little relief in sight.

So be smart about fire. Some tips from HFD:

-- Portable barbecue pits, charcoal grills and other open-flame cooking devices outside of a building should not be operated on combustible balconies or located within 10 feet of combustible walls or roofs or other combustible materials.

-- When igniting the barbecue charcoal, use a charcoal lighter, not gasoline. Gasoline can flash violently in and around the pit causing serious injuries to anyone in the area of the flash. A fire extinguisher or charged garden hose should be handy while the fire is burning. Check the pit frequently to ensure that it is okay.

-- Hot ash and coals from barbecue pits and charcoal burners should be placed in a non-combustible container until cooled or thoroughly saturated with water, before being disposed.

-- Citizens should also be aware that there is a temporary ban on all barbeque pits in City of Houston Parks.

Open Flames -- The City of Houston Fire Code prohibits all open-burning within the Houston city limits at all times. The burn ban in unincorporated areas of Harris County also prohibits any outdoor open-burning, including the burning of: a bonfire, rubbish fire, campfire, trench fire, or other fire in an outdoor location when not contained.

Vehicles, Trailers and Tools -- Park vehicles so that the exhaust system does not come in contact with dry grass, leaves, or weeds.

-- Adjust the safety chains on trailers to ensure they don't drag and create sparks that can cause roadside starts.

-- Keep lawn mowers and agricultural equipment in proper working condition and avoid rocks and other materials which might cause a spark.

-- Do not weld or cut without a spotter, a water source and a shovel.

-- Notify the electric power company when dead trees or overhanging limbs endanger the electric wires. The wires may touch each other or the ground, causing sparks that start fires.

Cigarettes or Other Smoking Materials -- Another cause of accidental fires is carelessly discarded cigarettes or other smoking materials. They can smolder for hours and should be completely doused with water before being discarded in a safe manner, rather than tossed out a window or on the ground.

-- Texas' arson law includes felony punishment for anyone whose cigarette recklessly sets fire to a building or injures anyone. Arson is a second-degree felony in Texas, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but if a person is hurt or killed or if the fire involves a church, arson is a first-degree felony, carrying possible punishment of up to life in prison.

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