COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KETK) – Parts of East Texas are facing high wildfire potential through the weekend, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.
“Continued triple digit temperatures and dry conditions will reduce the moisture in vegetation across the landscape, increasing the possibility for wildfire ignitions to occur this week,” a release from the forest service said.
The fire environment will support an increased potential for large wildfires “that are resistant to control” near Witchita Falls, Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, San Angelo and Abilene.
In East Texas, areas near Athens, Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Huntsville could be susceptible to large wildfires.
“An added complexity to the fire environment this week is the potential for thunderstorms,” said Luke Kanclerz, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Analyst. “Wildfire ignitions due to lightning will be possible because of the underlying drought and vegetation dryness. Increased wind speeds from nearby thunderstorms can cause a sudden increase in fire activity, creating safety concerns for firefighters.”
Over the past 10 days, Texas A&M Forest Service resources responded to 98 wildfires that burned 17,763 acres across the state. This includes 43 new wildfires from July 8-10.
“With persistent hot and dry conditions as well as an intensifying drought, many recent wildfires have required more time and resources to fully contain,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “The job of our state and local firefighters becomes more difficult and dangerous under these circumstances, and we need Texans to be cautious of any activity that causes sparks and may ignite a wildfire.”
Fully staffed task forces and additional suppression equipment are staged across East Texas and in Amarillo, Beeville, Brownwood, Burkburnett, Childress, Edinburg, Fort Stockton, Fredericksburg, Greenville, Lubbock, Marble Falls, McGregor, Merkel, Mineral Wells, Ozona, San Angelo, Smithville, Sweetwater, Uvalde and Victoria.
Fireline supervisors, command staff and incident commanders with advanced qualifications are placed across the state to respond. In addition to that, 391 personnel from 33 states are in Texas to support the effort.
36 aviation aircraft are staged in state, including five large air tankers, 12 single engine air tankers, six air attack platforms, and several types of helicopters.
Three strike teams, which include 42 personnel and 10 engines, are mobilized via Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System and are currently assigned to wildfires.