During a drought, it's advised to stop watering your lawn. But when there's a heat wave on top of a drought, trying to conserve water can backfire — literally.
One woman shared a TikTok video showing how her Texas lawn caught fire in the hot weather one August day — and by the end of the video, the fire department arrives. Here's what happened.
Online viewers watch as a Texas lawn catches fire on a hot day.
In a 2.5-minute video posted by TikTok user @sweetsarahsikorski in mid-August 2023, viewers can see security camera footage of her obviously dry Texas lawn. You need to watch pretty closely to see it, but a spark lands on the colorless patch of dead lawn, which was likely dried out by the ongoing heat wave.
The heading she included says, "PSA to water your lawn in Texas!" As of Aug. 22, 2023, the video had 1.3 million likes and 12,000 comments.
This video begins with a spark and a puff of smoke seen over the TikTok creator's lawn. The text over the entire video lets viewers know what to expect: "My grass caught fire while I was out. So thankful my neighbors put it out before it hit my house!" Then at the bottom of the video, she wrote: "This Texas dry heat ain't no joke!"
As many commenters point out, the video isn't exactly action-packed, though the end result certainly could have been devastating if the neighbors hadn't stepped in. A spark that landed on the lawn ignited into a flame, which gradually grew from a small black speck on the grass to a fire across the entire lawn. The final image is of a couple of neighbors spraying water on the fire, and a fire truck has appearing on the scene.
Can dry lawns catch fire?
For those who checked out the video hoping to see the lawn spontaneously catch on fire due to the extremely high temperatures in Texas, this may have been a disappointment. A spark actually landed on Sikorski's lawn, which then caused a flame that spread into a larger fire. According to YardTroop.com, dry grass clippings alone can't get hot enough to start a fire, but if combined with garbage, they can do so.
In the case of Sikorski's security footage, it wasn't grass clippings, but very parched grass that only needed a tiny spark to ignite. Many commenters wondered if the cause was a firecracker. Another commenter wrote, "At this point I don’t understand having grass in Texas. It’s all dead from the heat and we aren’t allowed to water except once a week which does nada."
Here's how to prevent your lawn from catching fire.
As Newsweek reported, the City of Austin advised that people can help prevent grass fires by avoiding tossing cigarette butts out of windows or on the ground, and keeping the lawn free of grass and brush clippings. It also notes that no one should burn any trash, leaves, or brush outside.
Keeping a bucket or water or fire extinguisher nearby during dry periods is also a good idea, the city noted.