Critical fire danger and widespread drought conditions have resulted in multiple wildfires continuing to burn across Texas this week, according to officials. Here's what we know so far about the wildfires in Texas as of Wednesday, July 20.
According to Texas A&M Forest Service, the areas of concern include the eastern Rolling Plains, Cross Timbers, Central Texas, North Texas near the Waco and Dallas-Fort Worth areas, and south along the I-35 corridor near the Capital region. The risk for significant fires is also expanding east to include portions of East Texas, including areas near Palestine, Crockett, Huntsville, Tyler, and Marshall.
The Texas A&M Forest Service stated that 99% of the state is experiencing some level of drought. The rainfall received last week was minimal and offered only a temporary reprieve from the dry conditions in some areas. Officials said critically-to-extremely dry vegetation and critical fire weather will likely increase wildfire activity this week.
Wildfire in Palo Pinto?
The wildfire in Palo Pinto County started on Monday, July 18. It has spread to an estimated 500 acres and 10% is contained, according to a Texas A&M Forest Service news release on the evening of Tuesday, July 19.
The fire quickly escaped initial suppression efforts, prompting local officials to evacuate residents in the area. The evacuations have since been made voluntary.
Texas Parks and Wildlife has temporarily closed Dinosaur Valley State Park due to the wildfire nearby. Texas Game Wardens have been helping with the wildfire in Palo Pinto.
The Chalk Mountain Fire in Somervell County ignited southwest of Glen Rose and spread quickly through dry vegetation, according to Texas A&M Forest Service. The fire is an estimated 4,000 acres and 10% contained.
The Nelson Creek Fire in Walker County is burning approximately nine miles north of Huntsville and is 1,800 acres and 35% contained. The fire has burned into rough terrain and forward progression has slowed.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced in a news release on Tuesday, July 20 that he has been coordinating the state's response to the active wildfires and collaborating with the Texas A&M Forest Service. The Texas A&M Forest Service has mobilized at least 105 dozers, 87 engines, and three moto graders across Texas.
In addition, 38 aircraft, including five large air tankers, one very large air tanker, 12 single-engine air tankers, one lead place, five air attack platforms, and 12 helicopters have been activated to support firefighters combating active wildfires.
The Texas Emergency Medical Task Force has a total of 35 personnel activated, as well as five ambulances and 10 Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs). The personnel total includes five Medical Unit Leaders, 12 Wildland Paramedic Units, eight personnel in UTVs, and 10 ambulance personnel.
"The State of Texas remains steadfast in our ongoing coordinated response to help Texans and communities affected by or at risk of wildfires," Abbott stated in the release. "As we continue to deploy all available resources in response to widespread fire and drought conditions, Texans are encouraged to remain vigilant and weather-aware to protect themselves and their loved ones from dangerous wildfires."