Wildfires in Texas

Wildfires+are+becoming+a+major+problem+in+Texas.++

Flickr

Wildfires are becoming a major problem in Texas.

Hundreds of firefighters are fighting wildfires in several regions of Texas as the potential flames swiftly spread out of control. More than 900 local and state firefighters have been deployed, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service (TAMFS), which is the state’s principal firefighting agency. There are 300 TAMFS firefighters and about 400 out-of-state firefighters in the group. Through the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, crews from 70 different local fire departments, as well as 65 fire engines and 35 aircraft assets, are operating across the state. More than 30 states have deployed staff to help Texas with their out-of-control wildfires, according to Kari Hines, a firewise coordinator with TAMFS. Some people have even traveled all the way from Alaska to help.
According to Hines, “It’s not unusual for wildland firefighters to go throughout the country and help where they’re needed.” “Because we didn’t have much of a fire season in Texas last year, we could handle it ourselves. We dispatched teams from all around the country to assist with the West Coast fire season. Having these guys come in and aid us in our time of need is vital and very appreciated.”
Despite storms passing over Central Texas overnight, strong westerly winds accompanying Wednesday’s cold front imply another day of high fire danger. From 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., a red flag warning will be in force for much of the area, according to KXAN’s First Warning Weather Team. Because of this caution, Hines emphasized why individuals should avoid certain outdoor activities.
“Anything that creates heat or a spark may ignite a wildfire,” Hines explained, “and on those particularly windy days, that means they can travel very rapidly.” “We’re talking about things like mowing your grass and having it strike a rock, dragging chains, and ensuring your tires are properly filled to avoid a blowout. Perhaps putting off any outside construction that involves welding or grinding would be a good idea.”
Outdoor burn restrictions are in effect for most of the counties in the Austin region, and county officials are urging residents to avoid any activity that might generate sparks to start a fire. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape signed an emergency order prohibiting outdoor burning in unincorporated areas of the county on Tuesday afternoon, and Williamson County has also imposed a burn ban. TAMFS, according to Hines, is now dealing with ten active wildfires across the state, which is unprecedented.” For the last week or more, we’ve had fires in practically every single branch,” she added. “We’ve been aiding our local agencies in some way or another with wildfires for over 100 days.”
Hines went on to explain why the circumstances in Texas contributed to the high fire risk. She pointed out that last year’s tremendous rains resulted in a lot more plant growth, which is now drying out and providing more fuel for the fires. It’s “essential to severe fuel dryness,” Hines said.
“When you mix fuel dryness and long-term drought conditions with exceptionally windy days, as we’ve had recently,” Hines said, “you may get wildland fires that are very difficult to suppress.” TAMFS and local agencies, according to Hines, are well equipped to handle what is likely to be a very busy response this week.