Texas Wildfires: Update 4/23/11

Here’s the update for Saturday, 4/23/11 from the Texas Forest Service:

Current wildfire status – April 23, 2011

Want to help?
Texas Forest Service has established the VFD Emergency Assistance Fund to help volunteer fire departments battling the wildfires. Donations are tax deductible and can be earmarked for particular departments, counties or regions. All proceeds (100 percent) will be distributed to volunteer fire departments via grants for firefighting expenses.

If you would like to donate to this fund or if you have questions about how you can help, emailHelpingTexas@tfs.tamu.edu.

Weather conditions
Higher levels of relative humidity, decreasing wind speeds and some slight rain continue to give firefighters a brief reprieve, allowing them to take an aggressive, offensive stance when fighting the wildfires across the state. However, extremely critical fire weather is predicted again for Monday and Tuesday.

Recent response:

· Yesterday (Friday, April 22), Texas Forest Service responded to 10 new fires burning 437 acres, including one new large fire in Jasper County.

· The Toledo Bend Fire in Newton County and the Sutton Fire in Crockett County have been contained.

· In the past seven days, TFS has responded to 95 fires burning 31,200 acres.

· 207 of the 254 Texas counties are reporting burn bans.

· Four incident management teams remain in place across Texas helping to manage numerous uncontained large fires. The Southern Area Blue Team (Quisenberry) is based in Midland and is managing all fires in the southwestern part of the state. The Southern Area Red Team (Wilder) is managing the fires within the PK Complex in North Texas and the Florida State Red Team (Graham) is assisting with fire activity in East Texas. The TFS Lone Star State IMT (Hannemann/Bennett) in Merkel is managing all other areas of the state as well as providing oversight to the visiting teams.

· Since late January, when numerous aircraft were mobilized to Texas, more than 2,300 hours have been flown and nearly 4.2 million gallons of water and retardant have been dropped.

New large fires from Friday:

BAD GATE, Jasper County. 300 acres, unknown containment. The fire is burning in pine plantation 15 miles northeast of Beaumont. A helitanker and Type III helicopter are assisting on the fire.

Uncontained fires from previous days:

PK COMPLEX, Stephens and Palo Pinto Counties. 147,973 acres, 25 percent contained. 166 homes and two churches have been destroyed on this complex of four fires burning near Possum Kingdom Lake, Caddo, Strawn, and Bunger, which have all had evacuations. Texas Forest Service task forces, Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid (TIFMAS) resources, three helitankers and 3 Type III helicopters are assisting on the fire.

WILDCAT, Coke County. 159,308 acres, 75 percent contained. This fire is burning in tall grass north of San Angelo. More than 400 homes have been saved. The communities of Grape Creek, Quail Valley, Bronte, Robert Lee, Tennyson and Orient were threatened, but all evacuation orders have been lifted. The DC-10 heavy airtanker assisted on the fire Wednesday and was instrumental in stopping the spread of the fire to the east.

ROCKHOUSE, Presidio and Jeff Davis Counties. 204,565 acres, 75 percent contained. 23 homes and two commercial structures were destroyed in the Fort Davis area in the initial burning period. The Buffalo Trail Boy Scout Ranch remains threatened. Approximately 300 firefighters continue to work the fire burning in heavy brush and pinyon-juniper. A base camp for hundreds of firefighters has been set up at the Fort Davis State Park.

PIPELINE, Tyler County. 7,091 acres, 85 percent contained. Forty homes were threatened by this fire which is burning in pine plantation 10 miles Northeast of Kountze. Crews continue to mop up interior smokes.

Prevention messages:

· Obey outdoor burning bans. Don’t burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Texas.

· Keep lawn mowers and agricultural equipment in proper working condition and avoid rocks and other materials which might cause a spark.

· To report suspicious activities, call the Arson Hotline at (888) 501-3850. If possible, safely obtain an accurate description of the person and/or vehicle (including the license number) before calling the hotline.

· Humans cause more than 90 percent of all wildfires. Do not weld or cut without a spotter, a water source and a shovel.
Marq Webb
Public Information Officer
Texas State Lone Star Incident Management Team

About M.J.Deare

I am a writer, actively researching topics of interest. I am also a graduate of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, with a degree in English, and have a master's degree from the University of Memphis. Born in New Orleans, I lived there until moving to northwest Arkansas and from there to Memphis, Tennessee. My husband and I currently reside in The Woodlands, Texas.
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