The Texas A&M Forest Service spent Jan. 18 readying firefighting resources in anticipation of an increase in wildfire activity caused by prefrontal weather conditions approaching the state.
The fire environment will include elevated to critical fire weather, with above normal temperatures and wind speeds near 20 mph in conjunction with freeze-cured grasses across the landscape. This combination will support increased wildfire activity.
Forecast fire danger will be high to very high for portions of the Rolling Plains, South Plains and Cross Timbers regions, specifically for areas around Plainview, Wichita Falls, Weatherford, Lampasas and San Angelo.
State and local firefighters, including Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, TIFMAS, have responded to 97 wildfires since the morning of Jan. 14, for an estimated 7,460 acres burned.
Strong north winds and dry vegetation contributed to increased activity over the weekend, which included the 1,696-acre Mill Creek Fire in Shackelford County, the 787-acre Martin Fire in Young County and a 177-acre Carbon Camp Fire in Hutchinson County.
Preparing personnel and equipment
In anticipation of increased fire danger on Jan. 18, Texas A&M Forest Service has prepositioned additional agency personnel and equipment, including 11 dozers and four engines, across areas of concern.
“Any time the forecast indicates that there is potential for wildfire activity, we mobilize resources to strategic locations to provide assistance to local fire departments and cooperators,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service fire chief.
Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Division of Emergency Management worked together to mobilize two strike teams via TIFMAS to provide wildfire incident support prior to this weekend’s increased activity.
“We greatly appreciate our state, federal and local partners that continue to diligently work together to protect Texas’ citizens and natural resources from wildfire,” said Moorehead.
Two large air tankers, three single-engine air tankers, two air attack platforms and one aerial supervision module remain ready to assist with wildfire response efforts.
Texas A&M Forest Service encourages the public to avoid outdoor activities that may cause a spark while dry and windy conditions are present.
For current conditions and wildfire outlook, visit the Texas Fire Potential Outlook https://bit.ly/3kemhbG.
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.