Forest Service fire resources mobilized ahead of potential wildfire activity this weekend

Special to the Empire-Tribune

COLLEGE STATION — Increased wildfire activity will be supported through Sunday by warm and dry conditions and critically dry vegetation in the Western Plains, Hill Country and Cross Timbers.

A strong upper level storm approaching the state over the weekend will produce elevated to critical fire weather including above normal temperatures and increased wind speeds, which will increase the potential for large wildfires.

Texas A&M Forest Service

“Any wildfire that ignites in dormant, cured grasses may spread rapidly due to the expected high wind speeds,” said Brad Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department Head. “These wildfires may be more resistant to firefighters’ suppression efforts.”

Texas A&M Forest Service is monitoring the situation closely and has mobilized personnel and equipment to areas of concern in advance of the potential wildfire activity this weekend. Fireline supervisors, command staff and incident commanders with advanced qualifications are strategically placed across the state to respond.

Additionally, Texas A&M Forest Service task forces and suppression equipment are staged in Childress, Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo, Burkburnett, Fredericksburg, Smithville, McGregor, Mineral Wells, San Angelo, Fort Stockton, Victoria, Beeville, Alice and Edinburg.

Aviation resources are also prepositioned across the state for a quick and effective response. During periods of high fire activity, aircraft are used to support suppression efforts on the ground, aiding in the protection of structures and other valuable resources.

Two large airtankers, nine single engine air tankers, three air attack platforms, two type 1 helicopters and two type 3 helicopters are currently staged in state for wildfire response.

Texas A&M Forest Service is also requesting the mobilization of several strike teams via the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) for wildfire incident support.

“The alignment of dormant vegetation and warm, dry conditions with increased winds have produced some of the largest and most destructive wildfires in Texas’ history,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “Wildfires that ignite under these conditions may be difficult for firefighters to control and pose a threat to public safety. We encourage our cooperators and all Texans to be prepared and listen to warnings from local officials.”

Texans that live in the areas of concern, including the Western Plains, Cross Timbers and Hill Country, are encouraged to make evacuation preparations in advance of the expected wildfire activity this weekend.

• Prepare multiple evacuation routes in case one is compromised by heavy smoke.

• Assemble a go-kit that can be grabbed easily and includes the following items:

– Supplies for both people and pets.

– Prescription medications or other necessary medical equipment.

– Papers and important documents such as insurance and identification documents.

– Personal needs including food, water, clothing, money and a first aid kit.

– Priceless items such as photos, family heirlooms and any other irreplaceable or valuable items.

• Listen to local officials and, if necessary, evacuate early to get yourself out of harm’s way.

• Stay wildfire aware. If a wildfire is spotted, immediately contact local authorities. A quick response can help save lives and property.

For current conditions and wildfire outlook, visit the Texas Fire Potential Outlook https://bit.ly/3kemhbG.