By Kierra Pixler, Managing Editor
Land in Morgan’s Point Resort has become a fire hazard to nearby residents when wildfires start, especially the natural oils in cedar trees that can turn a grass fire into a blaze of high intensity. When winds and dry conditions are added, these wildfires can become difficult for firefighters to contain and puts the surrounding area at risk. While some fires are acts of nature, others are the result of careless burning and a lack of routine landscaping and brush removal. The reality is that cedars are part of a larger ecosystem of organic fuels that pose a significant wildfire risk in Morgan’s Point Resort and the surrounding communities.
“Morgan’s Point Resort Fire has responded to a number of wildfire events over the past calendar year,” Fire Department Chief Vaszocz-Williams said. “Thankfully, most have been small and reported quickly. The largest wildfire occurred over the summer and began in the Windmill Farms development to our south in Temple. The fire quickly spread toward Morgan’s Point Resort but was controlled without the loss of life or a single dwelling within our city. The quick actions of the department to establish fire control points, good working relationship with Temple Fire & Rescue and the Moffat Fire Department, and the availability of air and dozer resources (TFS) factored into a good stop on the fire. Of course, a wildfire recognizes no borders, and a number of fires were controlled by the department in outlying areas before making their way into Morgan’s Point Resort.”
Burn bans are a tool that can reduce the risk of fires spreading and endangering lives, property and Morgan’s Point wildlife. While there are no “restrictions” on what types of plants are allowed, nor where they are grown, the city does work collaboratively on land management and fuels mitigation program.
“We are a recognized FireWise Community and partner with the Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) to assess problematic areas and work to reduce the amount of available fuels,” Vaszocz-Williams said. “Firefighters receive training throughout the year in both wildfire prevention initiatives and response to wildfires.”
Fire safety involves reducing flammable vegetation and detritus that often clutter land. Watch for grass, leaves or branches reaching from the ground to the crowns of trees. Conifer type foliage tends to be dry and ignites easily. Cleaning out gutters full of dead vegetation and needles is also of critical value and is an important preventative measure that residents can take.
“Residents are encouraged to pick up their own copy of our “Ready, Set, Go!” publication from City Hall or the Fire Department for detailed ways to prepare themselves and their property for a wildfire,” Vaszocz-Williams said.
Vaszocz-Williams also stressed the importance of becoming educated on wildfire preparation and prevention.
“Finally, we cannot emphasize enough that Morgan’s Point Resort, renowned for its natural, rugged beauty, is located in one of the highest Interface Fire (homes and structures immediately adjacent to, and within, dense vegetation) threat zones in the State of Texas,”Vaszocz-Williams said. “As such, there should never be a question of “if” we will experience a wildfire, but “when.” With that in mind, it is easier to understand the natural occurrence of wildfires, predictable conditions that increase the threat, and prepare accordingly.”
The following are some general characteristics of combustible plants:
Dry and dead leaves or twigs, dry, leathery leaves, abundant, dense foliage, high oil or resin including gums or terpenes, shaggy, rough, or peeling bark, lots of dead leaves underneath the plant (litter), needle-like or very fine leaves and foliage with low moisture.