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Texas A&M Forest Service warns of risk for large wildfires in West Texas and Panhandle where minimal rainfall was observed

April 27, 2022 

COLLEGE STATION, Texas—There is potential for large wildfires to occur Thursday through the weekend in areas near Canadian, Amarillo, Childress, Lubbock, Big Spring, Midland and Alpine.

“Portions of West Texas and the Panhandle did not benefit from the weekend’s rain event,” said Luke Kanclerz, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Analyst. “In these areas, grasses remain dormant and dry, and extreme to exceptional drought conditions persist.”

The amount of rainfall received Sunday through Tuesday has reduced the threat for significant or large fires for areas northwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, the Capital region, the Hill Country south of San Angelo and near Fredericksburg as well as most of South and East Texas.

Grasses are expected to become green, transitioning from dormant or freeze-cured, in response to the recent rainfall. This may take several days before the change is noticeable, especially where the amount of grass is dense. The higher moisture content in grasses will help to reduce wildfire ignitions and slow the spread of any new wildfires.

Texas A&M Forest Service has reduced the State Preparedness Level to Level 3 as the result of increased moisture across much of the state as well as the decrease in wildfire activity and commitment of state and local resources to fires. The potential for wildfire activity continues in areas where dormant grasses are present and minimal rainfall was observed.

Preparedness Levels in state are dictated by fuel and weather conditions, fire activity and fire suppression resource availability. Level 5 is the highest level of wildland fire activity and indicates heavy resource commitment to fires locally.

“While much of the state received beneficial rainfall, there are still areas that remain dry and are at risk for wildfire,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “Texas A&M Forest Service will continue to monitor conditions and ensure personnel and equipment are positioned across areas of concern.”

Texas A&M Forest Service 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 West Texas and the Panhandle.

Eighty-six firefighters mobilized via the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) and 170 personnel from 12 states are currently positioned across the areas of concern to support wildfire response efforts.

Sixteen aviation resources are also staged in state, including one large air tanker, nine single engine air tankers, three air attack platforms, two type 1 helicopters and one type 3 helicopters.

Since January 1, Texas A&M Forest Service fire resources have responded to 790 wildfires that burned 377,961 acres. In addition to the 387 Texas A&M Forest Service firefighters, 954 TIFMAS personnel and 1,010 personnel from other states have mobilized for wildfire response in Texas this year.

“This year’s winter/spring fire season trended above normal for the number of fire responses and acres burned,” said Moorehead. “The immense response effort exhibited includes numerous state, federal and local partners from across the country. We greatly appreciate those that have been working diligently alongside us to help protect Texans.”

Despite recent rainfall and increased greenness of vegetation across much of the state, Texas A&M Forest Service continues to encourage everyone to remain diligent with any outdoor activities that may cause a spark.

For current conditions and wildfire outlook, read the Texas Fire Potential Outlook

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 Management for all firefighting aircraft.

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