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Burning Wildfires Have Many Texans Worried They Could Be Next

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COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) - The threat of wildfires has a lot of Texans looking for ways to prevent becoming the next victim.

Drought conditions have kept Collin County under a burn ban since August, and homeowners there are worried nearby open fields mean they are just one spark away from a disaster.

For people living next to a grassy area, firefighters say you want to see a buffer zone of about 30 feet of cleared space, with little fuel to add to a wildfire.

Fire officials in Collin County say their area is especially vulnerable, because there are so many new subdivisions being built in open areas, with large fields surrounding them. The vacant fields are often full of flammable material and can quickly threaten homes if a flame is sparked.

So what can residents do to protect themselves and their property? Firefighters are urging everyone to report citizens violating the burn ban. They also recommend mowing down grass next to where you live.

Homeowners can also consider putting in landscaping consisting of fire-resistant plants and using non-flammable construction materials for parts of their homes.

But some homeowners think there's only so much you can do, especially when it comes to nearby property that isn't under their control.

Explaining the circumstance at an open area near his home Blair Chapman said, "We have zero-access to the land back there. We don't have gates or any kind of openings where we can get back there without going all the way down the street and around the corner. But even at that, it's not our property to do anything on."

Fire officials say people worried about neighboring properties should check city and county laws in their area. In some cases a Nuisance Abatement can be enforced preventing landowners from letting their properties threaten neighbors.

The burn ban in Collin County applies to most any form of outdoor burning and violators can be fined up to $500.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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