Texas A&M Forest Service raises wildland fire preparedness level due to increased fire risk

Texas Wildfires
Texas Wildfires(MGN)
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 2:24 PM CST
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KWTX) - Texas A&M Forest Service has announced it has raised the Wildland Fire Preparedness Level to Level 2 due to the threat of increased wildfire activity across several regions of the state.

“As dry conditions expand across the state, Texas A&M Forest Service has mobilized additional resources to areas of concern,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “This level of readiness elevates us to a Preparedness Level 2. Agency fire managers continuously monitor conditions and assess needs locally to best position agency resources across areas of concern for a quick and effective response to any request for assistance.”

Dry vegetation across the western half of the state may support increased activity in dry, dormant grasses through Wednesday. Areas with dry vegetation south and west of Amarillo and Wichita Falls down to Del Rio will see an increase in activity when exposed to periods of elevated localized fire weather.

A storm system and cold front are forecasted to move into Texas on Thursday bringing elevated fire weather to areas south of Lubbock to Abilene and into South Texas. Dry, dormant grasses, record-high temperatures, and increased wind speeds may support wildfire activity in these areas.

To prepare for wildfire danger this week, Texas A&M Forest Service is opening the Abilene Airtanker Base as well as single-engine air tanker bases in Alpine and Alice.

“Texas A&M Forest Service relies on aviation resources during periods of high fire activity to provide support to ground crews and assist in protecting homes as well as other critical infrastructure,” said Moorehead. “Suppression aircraft can respond quickly, increasing the likelihood that a new ignition remains a small, manageable wildfire.”

The agency continues to maintain fully staffed task forces across the state. Additional suppression equipment and personnel including fireline supervisors, command staff and incident commanders with advanced qualifications have been positioned in the Texas Panhandle and across South and West Texas to support response efforts.

Five strike teams mobilized via the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) are positioned across areas of concern.

The agency does want to make people aware to “stay wildfire aware. If a wildfire is spotted, immediately contact local authorities. A quick response can help save lives and property.”Texas A&M Forest Service does not own any aviation resources but instead uses federal aviation contracts through the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land