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County Judge Ed Emmett
Director
Regional Joint Information Center Letterhead

For Immediate Release

September 5, 2011

Beware of Wildfire Hazards on Highways

(Harris County, TX) -- The Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM) advises travelers making their way home today to take extra caution on the highways due to the increased fire threat.

Never drive into dense smoke. High winds may cause wildfires to spread rapidly and jump across natural barriers such as roads and even waterways. Strong winds can force smoke to stay low to the ground, obscuring roadways and traffic signs. Texas wildfires have been propelled by wind gusts as high as 60 mph.

During severe fire seasons, pay attention to TV and radio broadcasts BEFORE you travel. Be aware of fire and weather conditions along your route. Avoid traveling into areas where wildfire activity has been reported. Delaying your trip could save your life.

As you travel, monitor local radio and TV news broadcasts – and watch for highway signs providing information on fire danger.

Watch for traffic control personnel, fire fighters and law enforcement officers. Slow down and be prepared to stop if they signal you to do so.

If you encounter dense smoke – slow down as you prepare to stop and turn around. Activate your emergency flashers to warn vehicles behind you that you have decreased your speed or stopped. Do not turn around until you have checked for oncoming traffic and can turn safely.

For more information on fire danger and advisories, see the Texas Forest Service Web site at: http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu.

HCOHSEM has been activated and staffed at Level 3 (Increased Readiness) in response to the Red Flag Warning and drought conditions.  It will continue to be staffed during daylight hours through Monday. Harris County remains under a Red Flag warning with high winds, low humidity, and partly cloudy conditiions expected to continue through Labor Day. 

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