Forest Service Warns of Significant Wildfire Outbreak Thursday

Runnels County Fire
A recent wildfire in Runnels County. Image courtesy of Texas A&M Forest Service.
A recent wildfire in Runnels County. Image courtesy of Texas A&M Forest Service.

Significant fire activity is forecast for Thursday due to extremely critical fire weather conditions along and west of the I-35 corridor, Texas A&M Forest Service said in a statement today.

The San Antonio area is included in the watch area. Other areas of concern along  and west of the I-35 area are the Gainesville, Fort Worth, Wichita Falls, Abilene, Austin and Del Rio regions.

High winds with low humidity moving across dry-grass fuel could result in wildfires highly resistant to control, the Forest Service said. Evacuations are common.

Comal County Fire Marshal Kory Klabunde described the situation as a “fairly normal winter problem.” Today’s Keetch-Byrum Drought Index (KBDI) is 284. County commissioners do not issue a burn ban until the KBDI reaches 500.

He said there is plenty of ground moisture.

The forest service used stronger language.

“Texas A&M Forest Service has been monitoring the fire environment and increased wildfire activity this week,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief.

“The potential for significant, large wildfires has developed for tomorrow, Thursday, March 17,” he said. “Wildfires that ignite under these forecast conditions are highly resistant to firefighters’ suppression efforts and pose a threat to public safety. We encourage residents to be cautious tomorrow, be prepared and listen to warnings from local officials.”

Moorehead urged Texans to make evacuation preparations in advance of expected wildlife activity this weekend. They include:

  • Preparing multiple evacuation routes in case one is compromised by heavy smoke.
  • Gathering prescription medications or other necessary medical equipment.
  • Gathering papers and important documents such as insurance and identification documents.
  • Planning for personal needs like food, water, clothing, money and a first-aid kit.
  • Gathering photos, family heirlooms and any other irreplaceable or valuable items.
  • Listening to guidelines from local officials.

To view the Texas A&M Forest Service’s statewide active fire-response map, click here. To follow incidents in real time, like the Forest Service on Twitter.

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