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Two teams of firefighters from Texarkana have been deployed to west Texas to fight the wildfires. Conditions in the state have worsened due to the drought. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 90 percent of the state is experiencing issues. The firefighters from Texarkana are expected to be in the area for a minimum of a week depending on the weather and fire conditions. The fire has spread to Abilene and that is currently where the firefighters are being deployed to.
According to KTBS, all Texarkana firefighters are a part of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System or (TIFMAS) unit. Recently, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the mobilization of state resources through the Texas Division of Emergency Management. There seems to be more fire potential than there are resources. There are many open fields with tall, dry grass that simply fuels the fire. Resources are coming in from all over Texas.
It has been reported that since Saturday, 70 wildfires have burned 15,000 acres. The fires are spreading quickly. The threat is due to the wind speed of 25 to 35 mph, as well as wind gusts of 45 mph, and the drought conditions. The heightened afternoon temperatures combined with the higher wind gusts.
“A highly volatile fire environment is expected to develop within the Edwards Plateau today,” the SPC warned Thursday morning. A level 3 of 3 fire risk has been insured for the Permian Basin and the Edwards Platue, including San Angelo. This level is an extremely critical warning.
The San Angelo National Weather Service stated that because of the drought many areas did not get much rainfall throughout the winter. This has stopped the natural green growth that happens in March. This has created dry grass to fuel the fire in many areas due to a lack of plant moisture.
According to Judson Jones, a CNN meteorologist, they have seen videos that show how fast Christmas trees are able to ignite close to when the Christmas season comes to an end. This situation is similar, vegetation is dry and is easily ignited.
An update released on Thursday morning from the U.S. Drought Monitor states that in recent months the drought conditions in Texas have gotten worse. Over 90 percent of Texas is currently facing drought conditions. More than 40 percent of the state’s drought is in either extreme or exceptional conditions, which are the worst categories. These conditions developed in the past three months. Both categories have risen up to five percent in the past week.
The high wind gusts and dry conditions have the National Weather Service in San Angelo cautioning that high to extreme fire activity can happen on Thursday. Also adding that fires that occur could spread and be unable to control the flames developing into wildfires.
A critical risk location, being a level two of three surrounds the level three threat location from central Texas to the border of Mexico in the far West of the state. Residents and tourists in those areas are encouraged to be on high alert for wildfires. On Thursday, winds of 20 mph, wind gusts up to 35 mph, as well as dry conditions are being predicted.
Weather conditions will partially decrease the fire concerns. However, later on in the week, a change in weather conditions is expected which could cause an increase in the fire risk. These drought conditions are expected to proceed. These drought conditions are expected to be ongoing.
Based on the latest report provided on Friday by the National Interagency Fire Center, the amount of wildfires in the United States this year is higher than the 10-year average being 5,819. Since the beginning of 2022, 11,663 wildfires have devastated 287,468 acres of land.
Written by Jeanette Vietti
KTBS: Texarkana firefighters deploy to West Texas to battle wildfires; by Julie Parr
CNN: Parts of Texas are under ‘extremely critical’ fire weather risk today — the highest threat level; by Monica Garrett
ABC25: High fire danger west of I-35 today; by Josh Johns
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Inline Image Courtesy of Dan Pearce’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License