June 29, 2022

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WEBSITE NEWS UPDATE

Here’s why you’ll see smoke near Memorial Park on Thursday

2 min read

Fire crews have solidified the time and date for a prescribed burn in Houston and are urging the public to not be alarmed if they see smoke rising near Memorial Park on Thursday. 

Crews from the Houston Fire Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center initially set a window for the burn any time between now and April 21. On Wednesday, they finally announced that the burn will take place this Thursday morning after conferring with meteorologists with the National Weather Service. 

Brush is set ablaze during a prescribed burn at the Houston Arboretum on Thursday, March 25, 2021.

Brush is set ablaze during a prescribed burn at the Houston Arboretum on Thursday, March 25, 2021.

Jay R. Jordan / Chron staff

Thursday’s weather will be perfect for starting fires. There’s a slight breeze forecast for the Bayou City but the skies will otherwise be clear and temperatures will rise to the 70s by the afternoon. The prescribed burn is part of a two-fold effort to reduce the risk of urban wildfires and preserve the native grasslands inside the facility. 

“This proactive approach is the most practical way to reduce dangerous accumulation of combustible fuels and protect our community by reducing the risk of unwanted wildfires in the future,” said Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña. “Our wildland firefighting group and emergency operations personnel, in collaboration with our safety partners, will ensure a professional controlled burn operation.” 

Here’s what the burn looked like in 2021: 

The fire will take place in the arboretum’s grasslands area, a three-part section on the east side of the center. 


The nature center provides sanctuary for both plant and animal species in each ecosystem and education about the region’s natural lands before they were paved and developed into what we know today. In centuries past, nature would take care of the lands. But with modern development, there’s a need to mimic some of the natural cycles that keep the ecosystems healthy—especially with fire. 

“These prairie and grassland ecosystems evolved with fire,” said Christine Mansfield, marketing and development manager at the arboretum. “As humans removed that largely, along with (the lack of) large grazers, this is an attempt to bring back a little bit of the natural tools that would keep these ecosystems healthy. Without them, succession happens and things naturally move from grassland states to savannah states to woodland states.” 

Firefighters are canvassing nearby neighborhoods to let residents and businesses know of the planned fire. They’re urging anyone who sees smoke to not call 9-1-1 and clog up emergency lines. 

Check the Houston Arboretum’s website for more information.



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