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The hot and dry conditions have produced little rainfall across the majority of Texas during the month of June, causing the Texas Forest Service to declare this summer as the start of fire season.
"The summer fire season runs from about the end of July to the first of September. So we're running about a month ahead of time and this is a real concern for us and particularly for this area," says Fire Risk Assessment Coordinator, Tom Spencer.
That concern is prompting the new Emergency Operations Center to kick into full swing. The center is new and full of the latest technology to run operational briefings along with helping respond to fires and other disasters. They're able to monitor, through a GIS type system-each fire and high risk areas statewide, making the response time that much quicker.
"With the technology we have it allows us to stay ahead of burning conditions and send our firefighters to areas in the greatest need," says Chief Fire Operator, Mark Stanford.
These current conditions haven't been this bad since September of 2000 - however, fewer fires have started this year because of resources sent to the highest risk areas and proactive prevention efforts, like the operations center.
"To be able to monitor conditions helps us do our job better and be able to serve public better by getting information out there to them, easier, quicker and helps us do a better job," says Spencer.
The fourth of July holiday is also another concern. National Guard choppers are on standby for the holiday weekend and 10 dozers from Florida are on their way to northeast Texas to assist with firefighting efforts, if needed.
"When we've entered a period like this with critical burning conditions if the public could exercise caution and safety. Then fire department and our agency don't have to respond to fires and it doesn't put anyone at risk, " says Stanford.
The emergency center will help Texas Forest Service and their teams be better prepared and more efficient.
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