AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Central Texas pivots into recovery mode following last week’s ice storm, many properties have been littered with fallen trees, branches and discarded limbs. But before you pick up a chainsaw and start DIY-ing your own tree stump removal, state ecologists stressed the importance of keeping things safe — and practicing a bit of patience through the process.

One method some residents might try and resort to is burning tree stumps as a form of removal. Karl Flocke, a woodland ecologist with the Texas A&M Forest Service, said it’s critical for residents to check in with local municipalities on whether that’s legal before lighting a match.

“Many municipalities are going to have actual laws against open burning within city limits. So it’s really incumbent on you to find out what your local laws are, and make sure you’re obeying them,” he said.

Beyond city residents, counties also establish burn bans during severe fire risks. Currently, 82 counties statewide have enacted some form of a burn ban. Locally, county residents living in Travis, Williamson and Hays counties are free to burn wood as needed.

However, that doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it, Flocke said; ultimately, any resident burning tree debris on their property is responsible for monitoring the fire — as well as liable for any damages caused.

“You’re responsible for the fires you start and you certainly don’t want them to lead to a wildfire, or blowing embers onto a neighbor’s house at night, in a neighbor’s house or anything like that,” Flocke said. “So if you are burning, make sure that you keep it fairly small, it’s monitored at all points in time and that you have a water nearby to extinguish it, if necessary.”

Sunday morning, Austin-Travis County EMS and Austin Fire crews responded to a flash fire in north Austin after a person poured out gasoline to burn a tree stump. Gasoline is never a safe option to turn to, Flocke said, citing its high volatility.

“It’s highly volatile — not only the liquid itself, but the gases coming off of gasoline can ignite it,” he said. “So it is not recommended that you use gasoline to start a fire at all.”

Following the storm, several Austin-area cities have launched extended brush pickup and drop-off options given the high volume of downed trees. On Tuesday, Travis County commissioners greenlit its own debris collection operations, as some people living in unincorporated parts of the county struggle with brush removal.

For those looking to take matters into their own hands, Flocke also recommended composting as an option available. With smaller amounts, he said residents can cut up branches and let them rot in place.

If residents are dealing with larger downed branches, he added those can be cut up and stored for later uses, such as firewood for household fireplaces or barbecue grills.

Fallen limbs need to be cleaned up to avoid raising wildlife risks down the road. Still, Flocke stressed the importance of knowing your own limits when it comes to debris cleanup and avoiding overexerting yourself in the process.

“Never exceed the level of skill or comfort that you possess. Dealing with trees can be very dangerous, especially if you have limbs still hung up in the tree,” he said. “If you don’t have the means to take care of that yourself, please seek out help from a certified arborist.”