‘Be 10 steps ahead’: Bexar County fire departments work on prevention efforts as wildfire concerns rise

Bexar County, Texas – With his chainsaw in hand, Charles Lewis said it’s an easy decision to cut back trees in the Campanas neighborhood at Cibolo Canyons.

“One less fire risk,” Lewis said. “Our Achilles heel is this the mindset that it can never happen here.”

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In his neighborhood on the North Side, Lewis said trees and brush are abundant. The Bexar-Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department warns that this is all fuel for a wildfire, and they’re trying to be as proactive as possible ahead of the typical wildfire season in South Central Texas.

“It’s only going to get worse,” said Ruben Lopez, the training and safety captain for the Bexar-Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department. “Our hope in doing this was to minimize the loss to the community or to the homeowners.”

The department cut back hundreds of shrubs with Firewise community members in Cibolo Canyons.

The Firewise USA program gives people the tools to minimize wildfire risks in their own backyards, and cleaning up dry and dead brush is at the top of the list.

“We’ve done two neighborhoods fully,” said Gina Smith, Cibolo Canyons Firewise chair. “We can’t control everything, but we can come together and we can control the areas that are under our control.”

These preventative efforts are happening across Bexar County. Helotes Fire Chief Scott Moreland said two neighborhoods in his town are Firewise communities.

“It’s a lot about education on all fronts,” Moreland said. “It just gives us a little bit of an edge to where we can start getting those items ready and up to speed.”

Moreland said conversations about wildfires and prevention are top of mind right now across Texas because of the Smokehouse Creek FireMultiple departments in South Central Texas sent crews to support those fighting the fire in the Texas Panhandle.

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