EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – As various parts of Texas are dealing with large fires and evacuation orders, Borderland fire departments are warning of the risk of brush fires in our area.

The Horizon Fire Department says in 2021 they had more than 80 brush fires for the whole year, and so far in 2022, they have already seen over 20 brush fires, seeing the effects of dry weather and wind.

“Some of the risks that actually contribute to brush fires would be illegal burning and dry vegetation so something simple as a cigarettes’ and cause a fire to be bigger,” said Ruben Ortega Lieutenant Horizon Fire Department.

Saying the largest brush fire they have seen so far this year burned 10 acers in the Monte Vista area.

The Horizon Fire Department reminded the community that there is currently a burn ban in the unincorporated areas of El Paso County.

In other areas in El Paso that are under Emergency Services District 2 can get burn permits for agricultural and residential burning. However, West Valley Fire Department a volunteer fire department in Vinton says it’s important to get those permits before trying to burn to avoid brush fires.

“If you do get a permit they will send an inspector out to make sure that your burn area is safe,” said Boyd Smith the Assistant Chief at West Valley Fire a Volunteer Fire Station in Vinton.

Saying don’t leave a fire unattended and keep a hose nearby in case the fire gets out of hand and do not leave the fire until it was cold and out.

“So far this year in the west valley district we have had 13 brush fires, none of them of the magnitude that your gonna see in West Texas or Central Texas but most of ours have been limited to three acres or less,” said Smith.

Smith says winds make it a little harder to start a fire but once a fire does start it can spread quickly.

“Historically the fire season as they say is this time of year. Now we’re starting to see brush fires throughout the year of course anytime it’s dry the possibility is there, just because it’s dry and cold doesn’t mean you can’t have a fire. So anytime the fire weather allows for it whether it be wind or low humidity the possibility is there for a large fire,” said Smith.  

Officials share some of the most common causes for brush fires in the West Valley area.

“The causes that we’ve been seeing lately is either just carelessness, or maybe again people burning their irrigation ditches in preparation for the water and thinking it’s and not really looking at it that closely. And in some cases we have had some suspicious type fires where someone is setting them intentionally,” said Smith.

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