For 317 straight days, the Texas Forest Service's emergency operations center has been up and running to deal with wildfires. Senator John Cornyn visited with forest service officials at the College Station location to get an update on their efforts.
Cornyn (R-Texas) was briefed by TFS officials, including Director Tom Boggus.
He thanked firefighters who have been on the front lines, and praised their resilience.
"Nobody's acting like a victim," Cornyn said. Nobody's looking for pity. They're just read to get on with their lives after saving lives. They've done a lot of work to help people protect their property, and we're very proud of that response."
Since the beginning of wildfire season, which started November 15, 2010, firefighters statewide have responded to 23,835 fires. More than 3.8 million acres have burned along with 2,763 homes. Firefighters have been able to save 34,977 homes threatened by the fires.
Boggus noted the Forest Service is employed year-round, but that the state's volunteers have been
"Anything we can do to help them is wonderful, and for the senator to be here to support that and see that effort and acknowledge that effort, I think, encourages our folks," Boggus said.
TFS warns critical fire weather conditions will cover a large portion of the state Friday. Gusty winds, dry air and warm temperatures are expected.
"The message is always 'be careful,'" Boggus said. "You've got to know how dry it is. Look around. It's going to take a lot of rain. I've heard anywhere from nine inches in the west to 24 inches in East Texas to get out of this drought."
Of his takeaways from his visit, Cornyn said, "It makes me proud. The Texas Forest Service has done a heroic job dealing with this natural disaster that's burned an area of the state the size of Connecticut, and obviously protected and saved a lot of lives in the process thanks to the great technology and great expertise the Forest Service has to offer."
The Texas Forest Service is based at Texas A&M University.