Risk of wildfires rise with regional drought, high winds

Risk of wildfires rise with regional drought, high winds
Risk of wildfires rise with regional drought, high winds(Texas A&M Forest Service)
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 7:21 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Governor Abbott is taking a pro-active approach when it comes to wildfires.

He’s activating additional resources to protect communities across the south plains.

Chris Graham with the Texas A&M Forest Service says the department has two bulldozers staffed, with four others that have been brought in from East Texas. Along with type three and type six fire engines that hold between 500 and 1,500 gallons of water.

And more help is on the way. Gov. Abbott is sending firefighters from the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, or TIFMAS.

Those resources could be lifesaving as we head into what could be a severe wildfire season.

“We see these fronts that can get pretty severe,” Graham said. “We know that we have elevated conditions with the wind events and the cold fronts coming in.”

The latest drought map for the region shows the drought has gotten worse over the past month.

Most of the area is experiencing a moderate drought with some areas in severe or extreme drought.

Those conditions, coupled with high winds could create a combustible situation.

KCBD Chief Meteorologist Matt Ernst says those winds have the potential to turn a small spark into a life-threatening situation.

“Unfortunately, we see many of these days in our region especially when we’re back in drought status as dry as it’s been,” Ernst said. “That strong wind can take a small spark and create a big fire. Can threaten property and can even threaten lives.”

While weather can play a big role in wildfire events. There is another factor that almost always sparks the dangerous situation.

“90% of wildfires are cause by humans,” Graham said. “Blown tires, welding, chain dragging and cigarettes out the window.”

There are steps Graham says you can take to lower the risk of losing your home to one of these fires.

Build a defensible space around your home, clear your gutters and get any flammable debris out of your yard.

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