Red Cross: Use caution during wildfire season

With dry conditions persisting and the wind continuing to blow, the threat of wildfire is strong in the Hutchinson County area.The Eastern Texas Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross urges everyone to be cautious with open flames.The smallest spark can start a fire and that spark can be driven by winds to create a wildfire. Local citizens need to be prepared against wildfire by creating a 30 to 100 foot safety zone around their home.The following are steps that can be taken to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat:•Rake leaves, dead limbs, and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation.•Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.•Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.•Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.•Remove vines from the walls of your home.•Mow grass regularly.•Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill.•Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site.•Store gasoline, oily rags, and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.•Stack firewood at least 100 feet away from your home and clear all combustible materials within 20 feet.“Take the steps now to prepare and listen for public service announcements if fire is threatening your area,” Cindy Nickell, Emergency Service Director of the Red Cross, said. County officials will announce important information about evacuations and where to go if needed. With wildfire having the potential to be a life-threatening event, citizens need to follow officials’ direction for their safety.For more information, contact the local fire department, the Red Cross, or go to