Agriculture

Forecasts of forest fire activity will increase in the I-35 area and in South Texas

Texas A&M Forest Service firefighters responded to a 91 forest fire that burned 7,312 acres since Feb. 14. (Photo by Emily Mitchell, Texas A&M Forest Service)

Forest fire activity is projected to intensify along and west of I-35 and into South Texas from February 18 to 21, when dormant vegetation dries out and becomes susceptible to fire.

The abundance of frozen grasses in these regions has contributed to the recent activity of forest fires and will again be a factor in increasing the potential of forest fires over the weekend.

The potential for forest fires will be greatest February 20-21 west of I-35 around Wichita Falls, Mineral Wells, Lampas, San Angelo, Midland, Lubbock, Childress and Abilene as temperatures warm and wind speeds over dry, dormant vegetation increase. .

It is expected that on February 22 the activity of forest fires will be limited by the frontal environment in southwest Texas as the Arctic cold front moves south.

Update Fire

From February 14, local and state fire resources, including Texas A&M Forest Service firefighters responded to 91 forest fires that burned 7,312 acres.

The dormant season of fires, which occurs in winter and spring, is usually characterized by freezing of grass throughout the landscape and increased wind speeds around the dry passages of the cold front. The peak of fire activity in the dormant period occurs in mid-February – mid-April.

“Forest fire activity has increased in the state and is due to drought and overproduction of grass during last year’s growing season,” said Wes Moorhead, chief of Texas A&M Forest Service. “We have increased the number of staff, equipment and aircraft in the state to help with the response as we are concerned about large areas of the state.”

Available resources

Texas A&M Forest Service has fully staffed task forces and supplied suppression equipment to Victoria, Kingsville, Childress, Amaryll, Lubbock, San Angelo, Berkbernet, Fredericksburg, Smithville, McGregor, San Angelo and Angel Angelo. Additional agency staff and overheads, including highly qualified incident commanders, are located in a variety of areas of concern.

Dozier digs a fire line with a firefighter standing guard
Texas A&M Forest Service has fully staffed task forces and deployed suppression equipment at various locations throughout the area. (Photo by Curry Hines, Texas A&M Forest Service)

The Texas A&M Forest Service has also increased the number of aviation resources available in the state with six single-engine tankers and two Type 1 helicopters. 1, two Type 3 helicopters, two air attack platforms and two air surveillance modules.

“This year, we used aircraft to respond to areas with increased forest fire activity,” said Jared Carnes, head of Texas Forestry Planning and Preparedness at A&M. “There is a constant potential for forest fires and we want to be prepared to have planes in a state of readiness to respond.”

The Texas Forest Service and the Texas Emergency Department also worked together to mobilize three additional strike teams through the Texas Internal Mutual Fire Assistance System, TIFMAS, for a total of six teams to provide support for forest fire incidents.

Nine out of 10 forest fires in Texas are caused by humans. The Texas A&M Forest Service is urging people to avoid outdoor activities that cause sparks when warm, dry and windy conditions are present.

To learn about current forest fire conditions and forecasts, visit the Texas Fire Capacity at https://bit.ly/3kemhbG.

Texas A&M Forest Service does not have any aviation resources. Instead, it uses federal aviation contracts through the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for all firefighting aircraft.

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https://agrilifetoday.tamu.edu/2022/02/18/wildfire-activity-forecast-to-increase-around-i-35-and-into-south-texas/ Forecasts of forest fire activity will increase in the I-35 area and in South Texas

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