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Texas A&M Forest Service Warns of Higher Wildfire Risk This Weekend

The Lee Fire in Palo Pinto County burns next to a containment line constructed by Texas A&M Forest Service dozers on Feb. 22. Photo courtesy of Emily Mitchell/TAMFS.

Warm, dry weather conditions predicted for the rest of the week could mean an elevated wildfire risk for the Texas Hill Country.

These conditions, coupled with critically dry vegetation, could result in increased wildfire activity Friday through Sunday in the Western Plains, Hill Country and Cross Timbers, Texas A&M Forest Service reported today.

The Forest Service said a strong, upper-level storm approaching the state over the weekend will produce elevated to critical fire weather, including above-normal temperatures and increased wind speeds which will increase the potential for large wildfires.

“Any wildfire that ignites in dormant, cured grasses may spread rapidly due to the expected high wind speeds,” said Brad Smith, head of Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department. “These wildfires may be more resistant to firefighters’ suppression efforts.”

The Forest Service is monitoring the situation closely and has mobilized personnel and equipment to areas of concern. Task forces and suppression equipment are staged in Childress, Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo, Burkburnett, Fredericksburg, Smithville, McGregor, Mineral Wells, San Angelo, Fort Stockton, Victoria, Beeville, Alice and Edinburg.

Aviation resources also are prepositioned across the state.

Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) has been asked to mobilize several strike teams.

“The alignment of dormant vegetation and warm, dry conditions with increased winds have produced some of the largest and most destructive wildfires in Texas’ history,” said Fire Chief Wes Moorehead with Texas A&M Forest Service. “Wildfires that ignite under these conditions may be difficult for firefighters to control and pose a threat to public safety. We encourage our cooperators and all Texans to be prepared and listen to warnings from local officials.”

Texans living in areas of concern are encouraged to make evacuation preparations including preparing multiple evacuation routes in case one is compromised by heavy smoke, and assembling go-kits.

To check current conditions and wildfire outlook, visit the Texas Fire Potential Outlook website.

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