Local fire fighters have not been summoned to help battle wildfires blazing throughout southern California.
“We don't get asked to assist when it's that far out,” Stephenville Fire Chief Jimmy Chew said Wednesday. “They (California) will use forestry services - teams similar to what we used during the Huckabay fires.”
With more than 420,000 acres charred, more than 1,800 homes lost, and an estimated 900,000 residents displaced in California, questions are being raised about Texas' potential for a repeat of the devastating wildfires that plagued Erath County in 2006, when several homes were lost and an estimated 10,000 acres of land was scorched in the Huckabay area.
“Right now we are in pretty good shape because of the weather and humidity,” Chew said. “Our fire danger is fairly low.”
However, Chew said now is the time to begin making preparations for conditions that could change in the coming months, becoming ripe for more wildfires.
He said this year's unusual amount of rain is both good and bad - a double-edge sword when it comes to fire potential. While the rain quenched a dry earth, it also sparked an abundance of new vegetation - growth that could eventually become dry and dangerous.
“It's a never-ending cycle,” Chew said. “When it's dry, it burns. When it's wet, it grows back. And in Texas, we have those wet/dry cycles.”
Chew is urging residents to begin clearing brush around their homes.
“Now is a good time for people to start clearing their fence rows and clearing around their house,” he said. “Conditions could change when things get dry and the humidity level drops.”
SARA VANDEN BERGE is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379, ext. 240.