Critical fire weather conditions present over Western Texas
March 23, 2017— MIDLAND, Texas — Critical fire weather conditions will be present over portions of Western Texas and the Panhandle beginning today and continuing through Friday.
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has issued an alert putting western portions of the state in the “elevated”, “critical” and “extreme” categories for wildfire potential.
The areas of concern are Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Fort Stockton and El Paso regions.
“We are prepositioning state resources due to the predicted elevated fire weather,” said Incident Commander Les Rogers. “Extremely high sustained winds and low relative humidity can cause any new wildfire ignitions to become extremely hard to suppress.”
Increased fire activity is a concern due to expected sustained wind speeds of 30 to 40 mph combining with above normal seasonal temperatures, low relative humidity and a dry line — a boundary that separates moist air mass from dry air — forming over the region.
Texas A&M Forest Service is monitoring the situation closely and will be working with local response departments as we preposition state resources, including continued staffing of Single Engine Air Tanker bases in Amarillo and Abilene.
In addition, Governor Abbott’s office has authorized the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System to deploy resources to the Texas Plains region. Hailing from Collin, Dallas and Denton counties, a task force of four engines and a water tender arrived in Midland yesterday, and a strike team of five engines arrived in Wolfforth from Travis and Williamson counties.
Two USDA Forest Service engines with crews are in route to Fort Stockton.
With high fire danger, caution should be used with any outdoor activity that may cause a spark. It only takes one spark to start a wildfire.
- Postpone outdoor burning until conditions improve.
- Avoid parking and idling in tall, dry grass. Catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass under a vehicle.
- Avoid setting hot chainsaws or other hot, gas-powered equipment in dry grass.
Wildfires burning in grass can spread and grow extremely fast. It is important that if you spot a wildfire you report it immediately to local authorities. A quick response can help save lives and property.
Visit tfsweb.tamu.edu/currentsituation, www.facebook.com/lssimt or follow @allhazardstfs on Twitter for Texas wildfire information.
Texas A&M Forest Service Contacts:
Lone Star State Incident Management Team Public Information Officer – Merkel, 979-255-4129
Phillip Truitt, Communications Specialist, 979-255-0591, firstname.lastname@example.org
Texas A&M Forest Service Communications Office, 979-458-6606; email@example.com