Here is this morning’s statement. For more info on the plan to let residents return to their homes in Bastrop, please go to the Texas Forest Service site.
Wildfire Update – Sept. 12, 2011
· Yesterday Texas Forest Service responded to 19 new fires for 1,099 acres, including new large fires in Harrison and Rusk counties. In the past seven days Texas Forest Service has responded to 141 fires for 34,933 acres.
· The latest drought monitor shows 95 percent of the state in extreme drought, with 81 percent in exceptional drought (the highest category). Seasonal outlooks continue to indicate drying throughout the fall, so the drought is expected to worsen.
· 250 of the 254 Texas counties are reporting burn bans.
· Daily detailed fire information can be found at inciweb.org.
New large fires from yesterday (more than 100 acres in timber, 300 acres in lighter fuels; or where homes were lost):
MARSHALL, Harrison County. 250 acres, unknown containment. The fire is burning actively in timber. Heavy airtankers, C-130s, scoopers and helicopters assisted. Evacuations occurred but no homes were lost.
#543, Rusk County. 300 acres, contained. The fire is burning in grass and timber.
Uncontained fires from previous days (more than 100 acres in timber, 300 acres in lighter fuels):
BASTROP COUNTY COMPLEX, Bastrop County. 34,068 acres, 60 percent contained. The 719-acre Union Chapel Fire is now included in this complex and is being managed by the Southern Area Type I Incident Management Team. Crews and equipment continue to protect homes within the perimeter. There is no fire burning outside the main containment lines. An assessment team has confirmed 1,554 homes have been destroyed on the large Bastrop fire and the Union Chapel Fire. Two civilians were found dead Tuesday as search crews went through the charred subdivisions.
BEAR CREEK (#536), Cass County. 40,548 acres, 80 percent contained. Twenty-eight homes have been destroyed just southeast of Linden. A Type 1 Incident Management Team is assisting with management of the fire.
RILEY ROAD, Grimes/Montgomery/Waller counties. 18,946 acres, 75 percent contained. Active fire behavior was observed yesterday as the fire continued to move south. Approximately 59 homes have been destroyed on this fire burning just west of Magnolia. (The IMT is cross checking an assessment that shows 73 homes destroyed, so updated numbers will be available later today).
DIANA (#545), Upshur County. 809 acres, 75 percent contained. The fire is burning in grass and timber. Twenty homes are threatened.
BOOT WALKER (#553), Marion County. 1,047 acres, 80 percent contained. A wind shift to the south could threaten 30 homes. Access to the fire is limited.
OLD MAGNOLIA/MOORE, Gregg County. 4,909 acres, 80 percent contained. Several structures and a gas plant are threatened. The fire is burning in pine plantation.
101 RANCH, Palo Pinto County. 6,555 acres, 85 percent contained. The fire is burning on the south side of Possum Kingdom Lake near the town of Brad. Thirty-nine homes and nine RVs have been reported destroyed. Crews continue to mop up and aircraft are monitoring.
A south component to the winds will become more widespread across the state today. Even as dew points begin to increase, warmer temperatures will lead to continued low relative humidity. Among the driest locations in the state today will be those near the Interstate 35 corridor and east, and also in central parts of the state. Winds will be lightest and somewhat variable east of the Interstate 35 corridor on average and strongest and gustier to the west, especially across the panhandle. Winds should gust between 20 and 30 mph in the panhandle (Northwest Branch). High temperatures will continue on a warming trend today, ranging from the upper 80s to around 100 in most places. Overnight recoveries will begin to improve along and to the east of the Interstate 35 corridor, but will remain poor in areas to the west. Dry conditions today with near record high temperatures for parts of the region. High pressure will be moving east out of Arkansas bringing southerly flow to the southern areas and lighter more variable winds for the north. Highs will soar into near record territory with highs 99-103 north of the Huntsville and Lufkin areas while southward the highs will be more variable in the 93 to 101 degree range. Light and variable or south winds early in the morning will become southwest 3-5 mph then during the late morning and afternoon hours becoming gusty. A few hours of gusty northwest winds near 15 mph will be possible for the areas north and northwest of Nacogdoches. The sea breeze should move into the areas south of a Woodville to Conroe line late in the afternoon and early evening bringing south winds 5-10 mph and raise the relative humidity but before it passes the relative humidity will likely fall to around 20 percent. Mostly sunny skies will prevail over most of the region but the south where partly cloudy skies will develop late in the morning. Good overnight recoveries of 65-75 percent across the north and 85-95 percent in the south will be the rule.