Amid the continuing drought in Texas, grass fires have consumed thousands of acres of land as police and community members jump in to help put out the flames.
Police in Midlothian, about 25 miles southwest of Dallas, have been pulling out fire extinguishers more often than handcuffs, officers said.
Officer Austin Craig of Midlothian Police Department said the station receives an average of one to two fire calls daily due to the dry weather.
“We had one yesterday, and we just had one just before this interview,” he said.
On Sunday morning, a squad of Midlothian Police Department officers observed smoke billowing from a business on the downtown square. They quickly extinguished the blaze, preventing some serious damage to the area and saving valuable time for the responding firefighters.
“There were people in the businesses nearby. So I knew we needed to get it under control and help until [the fire department] could get there,” said Officer Ryan Mills of the Midlothian Police Department.
The grassfires are not limited to rural areas, they are also a risk to urban communities in DFW.
As The Dallas Express previously reported, the Texas A&M Forest Service has published an advisory for North Texas areas at particular risk of fires. According to the advisory, fire concerns exist in “North Texas near the Waco and Dallas-Fort Worth areas and south along the I-35 corridor near the Capital region.”
Fort Worth experienced a record 362 grass fires in July alone.
On Thursday afternoon, a massive grass fire in South Oak Cliff scorched 20 acres and reached within feet of an apartment building, where resident Chris Taylor and a friend used buckets of water to extinguish the blaze. Taylor said they had decided they would need to gather their belongings and leave that night if the threat became imminent.
A maintenance worker at the apartment complex was able to assist with a water hose, but it was too late to prevent the embers from spreading to the complex and starting a fire that damaged two apartments.
Even though no one was hurt, it was unsettling for some, who came dangerously near losing everything they owned. Thaddeus Stallworth, a Dallas local, said he had never witnessed anything remotely similar to this in all his years living in the city.
Authorities advised those who live close to undeveloped or forested regions to keep buckets and water hoses in an easily accessible location. In addition, suburban and urban households should consider purchasing fire extinguishers if they do not already own one.