Wildfire season could be rough for Abilene, Big Country

Will drought be the cause of a bad fire year ahead?

ABILENE, Texas - With sporadic rainfall and drying vegetation, the 2014 wildfire season could be a bad one.

Rainfall totals in Abilene are about four inches below average for the year.

We've already seen how the right combination of fuel and strong winds can make a fire hard to extinguish.

But could the sight of flames rolling over the hills near Buffalo Gap be a sign of an active fire season ahead?

"Because of the lack of rainfall, the trees, the brush that are dying off due to the lack of water, it could be more conducive to wildfires," said Phillip Truitt, a spokesman with the Texas A&M Forest Service.

These trees and dying vegetation act as fuel and can help wildfire spread like, well, wildfire.

If it does start to rain, it'll help, but only if it falls more than once every few weeks.

"Say we get a little bit of rain and we start to see a little bit of grass growth, but then after a month or two, no more rain and the grass does die, all that grass that grew is now fuel for wildfire," said Truitt.

Most of our counties have issued bans prohibiting outdoor burning, but if you aren't under one, you might want to have a controlled burn to clear some of these fuels on calmer days.

Before you do this, contact your local authorities or fire department to let them know and to get tips on how to burn safely.

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