The Texas A&M Forest Service is opening the Abilene Airtanker Base at the Abilene Regional Airport to assist with potential wildfire activity this week.

Air tanker dropping a plume of red fuel retardant
Two air tankers have arrived in the state as regional resources to support wildfire suppression efforts. (Texas A&M Forest Service photo)

Two large air tankers that arrived in state on Dec. 14 will be a regional resource, supporting suppression efforts in Oklahoma and Texas. Additionally, one air attack platform and three single engine air tankers are currently pre-positioned in Childress for response.

Wildfire concerns will continue this week as elevated fire weather will combine with critically dry fuels to produce low to moderate potential for the Panhandle and West Texas.

Fire potential will increase on Dec. 15 with the approach of a strong upper-level system. A fire environment that includes extremely dry fuels, strong winds and well above normal temperatures will create moderate to high significant fire potential generally north of Interstate 40 in the Panhandle.

Previous fire activity

Similar conditions produced an environment supportive of significant fire activity last week. On Dec. 10, state, federal and local firefighters responded to several large fires exhibiting extreme fire behavior including the 2,300-acre Electra Complex in Wichita County, the 3,607-acre Twin Creek Fire in Moore County and the 6,300-acre Arrowhead Fire in Clay County.

“The tremendous response effort exhibited over the past 72 hours included numerous agencies and local first responders,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service assistant director. “This is truly what Texans helping Texans looks like.”

Texas A&M Forest Service has increased the number of equipment and agency personnel across areas of concern in the Panhandle and West Texas. Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Division of Emergency Management worked together to mobilize firefighters via the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System to provide wildfire incident support.

It is crucial that all residents take care to prevent wildfires and to be cautious of any outdoor activity that may cause a spark.

For current conditions and wildfire outlook, visit the Texas Fire Potential Outlook

Texas A&M Forest Service does not own any aviation resources but instead uses federal aviation contracts through the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for all firefighting aircraft.

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