Wildfire activity is expected to increase through Feb. 16 as an active weather pattern aligns with dry vegetation across the landscape.
A strong front will move across the state bringing increased winds, temperatures and fire danger in cured grasses across the landscape for western portions of the state. This includes areas in the High Plains and Rolling Plains around Wichita Falls, San Angelo, Lubbock and Amarillo.
Over the past seven days, state and local resources responded to 176 wildfires that burned 8,418 acres. The uptick in activity was the result of increased wind speeds over dry fuels.
In preparation for potential wildfire activity this week, Texas A&M Forest Service has fully staffed task forces and suppression equipment staged in Childress, Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo, Burkburnett, Fredericksburg, Smithville, McGregor and Mineral Wells.
Additional agency personnel, including incident commanders with advanced qualifications, are prepositioned across areas of concern.
“Rapid response and the use of appropriate resources is essential in preventing large, destructive wildfires,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service fire chief. “Our agency strategically prepositions personnel and equipment across areas of concern where they can respond to requests for assistance from local fire departments who serve as Texas’ first line of defense.”
Two large airtankers, three single engine air tankers, two Type 3 helicopters, two air attack platforms and two aerial supervision modules are staged in state to assist with wildfire response efforts.
Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Division of Emergency Management also worked together to mobilize three strike teams via Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System to provide wildfire incident support.
“Texas A&M Forest Service will continue to work closely with our state, federal and local partners in order to protect Texas’ citizens and natural resources from wildfire,” said Al Davis, Texas A&M Forest Service interim director. “We also ask the public to be careful and prevent wildfire ignitions this week.”
The agency encourages the public to avoid outdoor activities that may cause a spark while warm, dry and windy conditions are present.
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.