Texas Wildfire Situation: 3 new fires, 7 uncontained fires still burning

Three new, large fires popped up yesterday. Here’s the latest report from the Texas Forest Service:

Wildfire update – May 10, 2011 – 8:52 a.m.

Current situation:

· Red flag warnings with critical conditions across much of West Texas today.

· Texas Forest Service responded to three new large fires yesterday.

· We are currently working on 10 major fires that span 599,405 acres.

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

New large fires from Monday:

MATT LOOP, Howard County. 1,500 acres, 70 percent contained. The fire is burning 5 miles south of Big Spring. Sixty homes were evacuated as the fire burned through a subdivision where four homes were destroyed. A heavy airtanker from Abilene and one from Pueblo, Colo., assisted on the fire.

IRON MOUNTAIN, Brewster County. 6,766 acres, 5 percent contained. The fire is burning 10 miles northwest of Alpine. Two ranch houses are threatened.

WILLIE, Milam County. 400 acres, contained. The fire is burning in tall grass 9 miles northeast of Cameron. One residence and two commercial properties were saved.

Uncontained fires from previous days:

GAGE HOLLAND, Brewster County. 4,550 acres, 70 percent contained. The fire is burning in rough terrain in the mountains just west of Alpine. Heavy airtankers, single-engine airtankers, and helicopters worked the fire yesterday. Evacuations of approximately 40 residences occurred on the west side of Alpine, but residents were allowed to return. One home was destroyed.

611 GAS PLANT, Fisher County. 8,500 acres, 90 percent contained. Thirty-two homes, oil infrastructure and wind turbines are threatened on this lightning-caused fire 13 miles northwest of Sweetwater.

DICKENS COMPLEX, Dickens County. 70,000 acres, 40 percent contained. The fire is 5 miles east of Dickens. Two homes and an oil pipeline infrastructure are directly threatened.

SCHWARTZ, Brewster County. 9,200 acres, 5 percent contained. Located 19 miles east of Marathon, structures are threatened on the northwest side of the fire.

ROCKHOUSE, Presidio and Jeff Davis Counties. 314,444 acres, 95 percent contained. Twenty-four homes and two commercial structures were destroyed in the Fort Davis area in the initial burning period.

DEATON COLE, Val Verde County. 175,000 acres, 95 percent contained. The fire is in rugged terrain 30 miles southwest of Ozona, burning in tall grass and brush. Numerous ranch houses are threatened.

OASIS, Kimble County. 9,445 acres, 98 percent contained. The fire is 4 miles south of Junction.

Weather Outlook:

Critical fire weather conditions are expected once again across the West and Northwest Branches today where red flag warnings are in effect. Low relative humidity (RH) values of 4 to10 percent, will develop in the afternoon over these branches. Southwest winds of 20 to 25 mph with gusts as high as 35 mph will be common over the High Plains and through the South Plains during the late morning and afternoon hours.

The dry line will move east to near a Wichita Falls to Ozona line. Along and east of the dry line RH values will range from 20 to 30 percent and from 40 to 50 percent over most of Central and East Texas. The South-Central and East branch south winds will increase to around 15 mph with gusts to 25 mph. The corridor from Deep South Texas up through the Hill Country and the Metroplex will have south to southeast winds 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph developing in the late morning hours and continuing into the early evening.

Well above normal temperatures will continue across the state beneath partly cloudy skies. Afternoon high temperatures will be in the 85 to 95 degree range over the state. Isolated thunderstorms will be possible from near Del Rio to San Angelo to Wichita Falls during the afternoon and early evening. Any storms would have the potential to produce gusty winds and hail. Southerly winds of 10-20 mph will prevail across the state during the overnight hours.

Prevention messages:

· Firewise (firewise.org) is a resource for residents to protect their home and property from wildfire.

· Remove flammable materials from around your home.

· Develop an evacuation plan for your family. Resources are available on the Firewise website and at texasfirestorm.org.

· 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.
Punky Moore
Public Information Officer
Lone Star Incident Management Team
(979) 229-7921

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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