With the weather in control, local emergency responders and state agencies ready for extremely active wildfire activity in West, Central and North Texas, ranging from Wichita Falls to San Angelo to Big Bend, to include all of the Panhandle. Extreme wildfire weather is also forecast for the area west of I-35.
Key weather factors include pervasive drought conditions, sustained winds of 30 - 35 mph - gusting up to 50 mph, high temperatures and low relative humidity. These weather conditions along with record-dry vegetation increase the potential for wildfires not only starting but also spreading quickly.
Texas Forest Service, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and other state officials have been watching the weather forecasts for several days. According to National Weather Center meteorologists, the conditions are probable for a regional wildfire outbreak similar to the ones that occurred April 9, 2009 across the Southern Plains of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, claiming 147,924 acres, 111 homes and four lives.
Saturday, Texas Forest Service crews are helping battle the largest wildfire currently burning in the nation and the largest that has occurred in Texas this year. The Swenson Fire in Stonewall, King and Knox Counties estimated at 71,000 acres and growing, has destroyed two homes and threatens many more, including the communities of Benjamin and Guthrie.
According to Texas Forest Service Fire Operations Chief, Mark Stanford, evacuations are common under these conditions. Responders, emergency planners and communities should be prepared to move out of harm’s way.
Federal firefighters in the State of Texas have not been affected by the federal budgetary issue.
You can use Texas Forest Service resources to monitor the current wildfire status and create a wildfire action plan for your home.