Hot and dry temperatures across North Texas and much of the rest of the state could lead to even more wildfires this week, even as fire crews fight to contain fires that started Monday.
On July 19, the Texas A&M Forest Service released a statement reading:
“Areas of concern include the eastern Rolling Plains, Cross Timbers, Central Texas, North Texas near the Waco and Dallas-Fort Worth areas and south along the I-35 corridor near the Capital region. The risk for significant fires is also expanding east to include portions of East Texas, including areas near Palestine, Crockett, Huntsville, Tyler and Marshall.”
This month, triple-digit temperatures and weeks of arid conditions have combined to create an increased risk of wildfires.
Interestingly, even thunderstorms added to the threat last week.
Luke Kanclerz, a Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Analyst, stated thunderstorms could make wildfires more likely under these conditions.
“An added complexity to the fire environment … is the potential for thunderstorms. Wildfire ignitions due to lightning [are] 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,” Kanclerz stated.
The Texas A&M Forest Service is prepared with equipment and personnel on standby across the state. This will allow them to respond effectively and quickly to any possible wildfires.
Fire task forces and suppression equipment are stationed around Uvalde, Fort Stockton, Fredericksburg, Beeville, and Amarillo, among others.
Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief, Wes Moorehead, stated recent wildfires have taken more time to contain.
“With persistent hot and dry conditions as well as an intensifying drought, many recent wildfires have required more time and resources to fully contain,” Moorehead said. “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.”
Between July 8 and July 10, the Texas A&M Forest Service responded to 43 new wildfires, according to the agency’s announcement. On July 13, Texas A&M Forest Service recorded 16 recent fires, which burned over 600 acres. And this Monday, July 18, it clocked 18 new fires.
A spokesperson for Texas A&M Forest Service, Adam Turner, spoke to NBC 5 on July 8 about the Hardcastle Fire and the burn bans issued by counties across the state. Turner said this year is close to breaking the record number of wildfires in 2011, when over 3,000 fires burned almost 3 million acres.
“This will definitely be a record book year,” Turner told NBC 5.
Turner stated that burn bans would stay in effect and are vital during fire seasons.
“Texas has been a focal point of this year for wildland fire,” he said. “It will continue to be. We are in a major fire season for Texas, so we will have the resources to respond. It just will be a continued effort until it rains significantly.”