Source: Texas A&M Forest Service | June 17, 2020
Drought conditions in the western Plains and early drying across the state have led to an increase in wildfire activity and an early start to the summer wildfire season.
Most of the state is trending three to four weeks ahead of typical early summer drying, and the rainfall outlook over the next six weeks is not anticipated to be enough to reverse this trend.
Wildfire analysts with Texas A&M Forest Service report that Texas could experience a severe summer wildfire season.
“The dryness we are currently seeing across portions of the state is, generally, what we would be experiencing in mid- to late July,” said Brad Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services department head.
“The drought that will carry over from the spring into the summer and the emerging drought that is developing in June have initiated an early start to the summer fire season. Early summer drying in June also introduces the possibility of experiencing a severe late-summer fire season.”
Under these conditions, state officials are tracking an increased number of wildfire ignitions occurring across Texas. Since Tuesday, June 9, Texas A&M Forest Service and local fire departments have responded to 90 wildfires that burned a total of 21,692 acres. Many of the recent wildfires are attributed to equipment use, welding, debris burning and roadside starts.
“Texas is experiencing an uptick in wildfire activity across most of the state, and it’s easy to think that a wildfire won’t impact you until you see the smoke on the horizon,” said Kari Hines, Texas A&M Forest Service Firewise coordinator. “Now is the time to prepare your house and property to make them wildfire resilient. Create an evacuation plan for your family that includes pets and livestock. Look for the buildup of dead and dry vegetative material around your house, the driveway, and other important buildings, as this is where embers can gather and start fires.”
Successfully preparing for a wildfire requires everyone to take personal responsibility for protecting themselves, their families and their properties.
Texas A&M Forest Service encourages Texans to take the following steps around their homes today to reduce the risk of wildfire:
1. Clean out gutters of debris.
2. Mow and water lawns.
3. Move firewood a minimum of 30 feet from homes.
4. Remove anything stored under decks or porches.
5. Make sure home addresses are visible from the road.
If a wildfire is spotted, contact local authorities immediately. A quick response can help save lives and property.
Visit the following websites for more info on fire prevention and preparation:
Texas A&M Extension Disaster Education Network Wildfire Info Page