High temperatures and drought are fueling increased wildfire activity across the state, forcing Texas A&M Forest Service to open an Austin Airtanker Base at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport today.
The airtanker base allows for faster response times and greater cost efficiency as Texas firefighters struggle to respond to above-normal fire activity expected to continue through the summer.
“This year we have utilized aviation resources for response in areas experiencing significant wildfire activity,” said Jared Karns, who heads Texas A&M Forest Service Planning and Preparedness. “These aircraft provide support to ground crews and assist in protecting homes as well as other critical infrastructure.”
Since Jan. 1 the Forest Service has responded to 1,240 wildfires that burned 497,373 acres across the state.
Aviation resources, used to augment fire suppression efforts on the ground, have been positioned across the state since Dec. 9, 2021 when wildfire activity began to increase.
Since then, suppression aircraft have flown 4,641 hours, dropping 6,820,642 gallons of water and retardant on Texas wildfires.