Texas A&M Forest Service has raised the State Preparedness Level to Level 4 due to a significant increase in wildfire activity across the state.

Smoke Plume over Crittenburg Complex Fire
Preparedness levels in the state of Texas have been increased to Level 4. (Texas A&M Forest Service photo)

The agency is responding to a higher potential for large blazes with an increased commitment of state and local resources to fight fires.

Preparedness levels in the state are dictated by available fuel and weather conditions, fire activity and fire suppression resource availability. Level 5 is the highest level of wildland fire activity and indicates heavy resource commitment to fires locally.

“The decision to move to a Preparedness Level 4 indicates the complexity of wildfires across Texas is increasing to where they require more time, personnel and equipment to contain,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service fire chief.

Wildfire preparedness in elevated fire conditions

This week, the fire environment was characterized by critical to extreme weather conditions and extremely dry grass that supported the growth of several large wildfires across Texas.

Over the past seven days, state, federal and local fire resources responded to 192 wildfires that burned 173,559 acres.

More than 300 Texas A&M Forest Service firefighters; more than 200 Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System firefighters along with firefighting personnel from 28 states are positioned across the state to respond.

Due to the above-normal wildfire activity levels and elevated fire conditions across the state, all prescribed fires conducted and lead by Texas A&M Forest Service have been postponed until conditions improve.

“We want to ensure that the state has adequate resources to protect Texas’ residents, property and natural resources from wildfire,” said Moorehead. “We are working with other states to mobilize additional fire resources to Texas for assistance.”

Wildfires continue to burn

Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System firefighters increased containment of 10 active wildfires across the state, including the Borrega Fire in Kleberg County, the Canadian River Bottom Fire in Roberts and Hemphill counties and the Los Angeles Fire in La Salle County.

Smoke plume over Canadian River Bottom Fire
The Canadian River Bottom Fire has burned more than 39,568 acres and is 40% contained. (Texas A&M Forest Service photo)

The Borrega Fire has burned an estimated 46,000 acres and is 20% contained. The wildfire ignited on the afternoon of March 30 and spread quickly due to dry, windy conditions. Later that night, the Kleberg County implemented voluntary evacuations for residents in the Ricardo and Riviera communities.

In addition to local first responders, 42 state and federal personnel are assigned to the fire with firefighting equipment — three bulldozers, 16 fire engines and eight aircraft including an air attack platform and single engine air tankers. Additional resources have been mobilized to support suppression efforts on the wildfire.

The Los Angeles Fire has burned an estimated 3,500 acres and is 30% contained. The wildfire ignited on the afternoon of March 30 in grass and brush. Residents were evacuated from Fowlerton later that night, but the community is not immediately threatened at this time. Additional resources, including planes, are arriving to assist with suppression efforts.

The Canadian River Bottom Fire has burned more than 39,568 acres and is 40% contained. The wildfire ignited on March 29 off U.S. Highway 60 between Miami and Canadian. During the initial hours, the fire spread rapidly across the landscape. The fire moved northeast crossing U.S. Highway 83 and Texas Highway 33 but stayed south of the town of Canadian. Forward progression of the wildfire was stopped, and fire resources continue to patrol the area and improve containment lines around the fire.

Moorehead said all Texans should stay “wildfire aware.”

“If a wildfire is spotted, immediately contact local authorities,” he said. “A quick response can help save lives and property.”

For current conditions and wildfire outlook, read 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.

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