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Drought, Other Factors Contribute To Larger Texas Wildfires

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Larger, more threatening wildfires are occurring at greater rates as Texas faces drought, development and changes in how land is used.

Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief Mark Stanford says Texas had 157,000 wildfires over a nine-year period ending in 2014. He says nearly 80-percent of those fires raged within 2 miles of a community.

Stanford says wildfires used to be a rural problem "and not really a threat to communities."

The latest danger erupted this month when the Hidden Pines fire in Bastrop County burned nearly 5,000 acres and destroyed 77 buildings, including 64 homes.

The threat of wildfires has a lot of North Texans looking for ways to prevent becoming the next victim. Collin County firefighters have recommended that residents report citizens violating the burn ban and to protect their property mow down the grass next to where you live.

The forest service responded to just one wildfire of at least 5,000 acres from 1985 to 2000, but in the last 15 years there have been fires of that size nearly every year.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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