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Dry Conditions Result in Katy Grass Fires; Neighbors Rush to Respond When a Backyard Catches Fire

KATY MAGAZINE NEWS

August 24, 2023

By Natalie Cook Clark


The Katy area continues to experience dry conditions due to extreme heat and the lack of rain. Grass fires are on the rise, including one that broke out in a resident’s backyard that sent neighbors into action.

Photo credit: Kaitie Layne


Katy Needs a Lot of Rain

While many rejoiced over a brief shower earlier this week, local authorities say that it is nowhere near enough.



“We need a lot of rain,” says Jason Tharp, District Chief Eastex Fire Department / Battalion Chief of Community Risk Reduction and PIO HCESD48. “Not just a few days but a good week and a half.”


According Harris County ESD 48, which covers a great portion of Katy, they have reported 21 grass fires that were believed to be drought related since the drought. While some years have beat that number, the current dry conditions set the stage for this to rise.


“Since the burn ban was initiated, we’ve responded to 50 brush and grass fires,” says Eddie Cruz, PIO for Cy-Fair Fire Department.


Cy-Fair Fire Department, which covers part of the Katy community of Elyson, recently responded to a grass fire in a residential backyard.


Neighbors Act to Prevent Grass Fire Spread

On August 11, 2023 a grass fire started in a resident’s backyard in the community of Elyson. Neighbors saw the smoke and their actions led to a multi-neighbor effort to douse the flames and prevent the spread before help could arrive.


“We were sitting down to dinner and looked out our back window and it looked foggy,” says Katy resident Kaitie Layne. At first the family and their dinner guest though it was raining but then realized it was smoke. “We ran to our backyard and I saw smoke and at first we thought someone was grilling but then I saw the flames coming into my neighbor’s backyard under the fence.”


Kaitie immediately jumped into action, taking her 100-foot hose to her neighbor’s yard without even asking and started putting water on it. Other neighbors started spraying their yards and turning on their sprinkler systems while they waited for the fire department to arrive.


The incident shows the dangers of these fires and how well a community worked together to limit the damage and spread.


Grass Fires Still Occurring Despite Burn Bans

While the Katy area isn’t as dry as the record breaking 2011, this is close and all three counties in the Katy area have active burn bans.


“We see them along the I-10 feeder road because drivers are still tossing out cigarettes,” says Tharp. “Another common spot is the cliffs out near Morton Ranch where kids are four-wheeling.”


Katy residents can take precautions to help prevent these fires.


According to Tharp, dry conditions can’t result in a fire unless there is a point of ignition. This is how residents can help.


Cy-Fair Fire Department Provides Valuable Tips:

  • Keep grass shorter and be aware of any rocks or metal before mowing your yard. That can create a spark.

  • Even if grass appears “dead” hose it down by still following the latest water restrictions.

  • Submerge hot coals from grilling for at least an hour in a container before throwing them away.

  • Grass fires can quickly spread to homes and businesses, so always make sure that smoke detectors are properly working.



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