TEXAS (TNN) — Over the last 14 days in the west Texas area, temperatures climbed over 100 degrees and there hasn’t been significant rain since June, resulting in dry conditions prime for wildfire ignition. Fire departments across Texas responded to multiple fires sparked by welding in the last week.
Texas A&M Forest Service reminds everyone to be aware of the increased wildfire potential while using welding equipment and encourages preventative measures and maintenance to avoid accidental ignition.
Welding fires are caused by sparks, droplets of melted metal, torch flames, combustible materials touching a hot piece of equipment, or flammable vapors igniting due to heat. Sparks can travel up to 35 feet at temperatures hotter than 2500°F.
By taking the time to maintain equipment and prepare work areas, you can mitigate the threat of starting a wildfire.
Welders should take the following precautions:
Investigate surroundings before welding begins
Wildfire prevention begins, first and foremost, with the welder. Clear away vegetation or any other combustible materials around the welding area and use a sprayer to wet down the area prior to starting welding operations.
Keep flammable materials far from welding areas
The sparks and expulsion of molten metal produced by welding and cutting processes are ready sources of ignition that can travel up to 35 feet from their source. Because sparks can travel so far, any combustible material in the immediate area can pose a significant fire hazard. As a result, all welding areas should be free of flammable materials.
Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby
It is important to be ready for any fire danger that may occur. As such, all areas where welding is being performed must have a fire extinguisher nearby. Fire extinguishers are very effective in handling the early stages of a fire. When utilized, portable fire extinguishers effectively eliminate 80% of fires.
For information on fire prevention, please visit the Texas A&M Forest Service website.