FORT WORTH, Texas - The hot, dry weather has more counties across Texas implementing burn bans with Fourth of July celebrations just around the corner.
Wise and Parker counties already have burn bans in place in order to prevent brush fires. Tarrant and Denton counties both issued burn bans on Tuesday. Officials in the counties said rain earlier in the year sprouted vegetation that’s now dry and fuel for fires.
Rendon firefighters pushed back a large grass fire over the weekend away from people's homes. Fort Worth firefighters said they went out on 20 grass fires Sunday alone. They only had four such fires last year on July 1.
The lack of rain in the past month and the heat has Fort Worth officials worries as the Independence Day holiday approaches. They fear people shooting off fireworks could ignite a fire that turns into a threat to people and businesses.
"We're doing trailing brush trucks. Anytime a unit is dispatched to a 911 call, they'll take a brush truck with them so it always be nearby in case they get diverted onto a grass fire,” said Kyle Faulkner, Fort Worth Fire Department.
Faulkner said fighting brush fires when it’s hotter than 100 degrees outside also takes more resources. People need to be rotated out more frequently so no one gets overheated.
Fort Worth officials said it would take 6.5 inches of rain to get parts of Tarrant County back to safer conditions.
The Argyle Fire District's new brush truck hasn't seen field action yet. But the fire district expects that could change Wednesday.
“Right now, it’s very dry,” said Argyle Fire District Lt. Kerry Brown. “Humidity is in the 20s, which is bad for fire. Good for fire. Bad for us.”
Argyle Fire will staff for two additional brush trucks on July Fourth. Firefighters are ready with lightweight gear designed to make battling brush fires in the hot weather more tolerable. They're hoping people are smart so firefighters don't have to spend the holiday battling brush fires.
“It’s fun,” Brown said. “But then once something happens, then it’s out of control and they're helpless.”
Around the same time Denton County put a burn ban in effect, crews working on a fence sparked a fire in a field in Roanoke. There were workers on standby with hoses, but it wasn't enough.
“They had people watching it,” said Roanoke Fire Marshal Doug Parks. “But with the wind and the dry conditions we've had lately and the high temperatures and fire just took off and got away from them before they could get it out with their means.”
While Denton and Tarrant are among the North Texas counties with burn bans, the ban does not stop people from using fireworks in unincorporated areas.
Oher counties like Johnson and Parker County sought a local disaster declaration in order to get a 60-day fireworks ban.
While Denton doesn't have a disaster declaration, officials are urging people not use fireworks.
“I would highly discourage that now with the humidities and the dryness we've had and the potential for the fire to get out of hand and cause damage,” Parks said.
Safety officials all over North Texas suggest that people enjoy a professional fireworks show instead of popping their own fireworks.
Fort Worth has set up a non-emergency hotline for people to report illegal fireworks. Tipsters can call 817-392-4444. The city will have volunteers there set up to take calls and questions.
Officials are asking people not to call 911 to report fireworks.