Over 900 Firefighters Are Battling Wildfires in Texas.

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AUSTIN, TX  — Hundreds of firefighters are attempting to put out wildfires in several parts of Texas on Wednesday, as circumstances once again raise the possibility of flames quickly spreading out of control.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service (TAMFS), the state’s principal firefighting agency, more than 900 local and state firefighters are now mobilised. This number comprises 300 TAMFS firefighters as well as 400 out-of-state firefighters. Through the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, crew members from 70 different local fire departments, as well as 65 fire engines and 35 aviation assets, are working across the state.

According to Kari Hines, a firewise coordinator with TAMFS, more than 30 states have dispatched staff to assist Texas with the continuing wildfire response. Some travelled from as far away as Alaska to help.

 

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“It’s not uncommon for wildland firefighters to travel throughout the country and assist where needed,” Hines explained. “We were able to do that ourselves last year since we didn’t have much of a fire season in Texas.” We dispatched teams from across the country to assist with the West Coast fire season. It is vital and greatly appreciated to have these guys come in and help us in our time of need.”

MAP: View the locations of outdoor burn bans in Texas.
Despite storms passing over Central Texas overnight, strong westerly winds behind Wednesday’s cold front imply another day of high fire danger. According to KXAN’s First Warning Weather Team, a red flag warning will stay in force for the majority of the area from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Hines stated why individuals should refrain from participating in certain outdoor activities as a result of this warning.

“Anything that generates heat or a spark can ignite a wildfire, and on those particularly windy days, that means they can spread very quickly,” Hines explained. “We’re talking about mowing your grass and having it hit a rock; dragging chains; and making sure your tyres are properly inflated to avoid a blowout.” Take a break from conducting any type of outdoor construction that may include welding or grinding.”

Most counties in the Austin area have also enacted outdoor burn bans, and county officials are urging residents to avoid any actions that could generate sparks to ignite flames. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape issued an emergency order barring outdoor burning in unincorporated areas of the county on Tuesday afternoon, and Williamson County has a burn ban in effect as well.

TAMFS, according to Hines, is now dealing with 10 active wildfires burning throughout the state, which she describes as rare.

“We’ve been seeing fires in practically every single branch almost every single day for the last week or so,” she said. “We’ve been assisting our local departments in some way or another with wildfires for over 100 days.”

She went on to explain what caused such hazardous circumstances for flames in Texas. She pointed out that last year’s tremendous rainfall resulted in significantly greater plant growth, which is currently drying out and producing new fuel to burn. It was “essential to extreme fuel dryness,” she said.

 

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“When you mix that fuel dryness and long-term drought conditions with highly windy days, as we’ve been seeing recently,” Hines explained, “that may lead to wildland fires that are very difficult to suppress.”

TAMFS and local departments, according to Hines, are well equipped to handle what is expected to be an especially busy response this week.

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