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Texas A&M Forest Service on wildfire alert as extreme heat persists

Texas A&M Forest Service firefighting crews

Texas A&M Forest Service fire units at the Charley Taylor Arena, 3053 U.S. 281 in Marble Falls. The unit has been in Marble Falls since March due to an unusually high risk of wildfires in the area. File photo

Extremely dry weather could create large wildfires resistant to control across much of Texas, including Burnet and Llano counties, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. Fully staffed task forces and suppression equipment have been staged across the state, including in Marble Falls, where a service unit from the Smithville task force has been set up at the Charley Taylor Arena since mid-March. 

“With persistent hot and dry conditions as well as an intensifying drought, many recent wildfires have required more time and resources to fully contain,” Forest Service Fire Chief Wes Moorehead stated in a recent media release. “The job of our state and local firefighters becomes more difficult and dangerous under these circumstances, and we need Texans to be cautious of any activity that causes sparks and may ignite a wildfire.”

Of several multi-acre wildfires burning as of July 12, the closest to the Highland Lakes is the Hanke Kott Road Fire in Gillespie County 

near Fredericksburg. The 390-acre fire was 75 percent contained as of 10 p.m. Monday, July 11. 

Firefighters are currently fighting wildfires burning across the state, including the Blanket Fire in Brooks County (5,900 acres, 70 percent contained), Spade Ranch Fire in Mitchell County (500 acres, 50 percent contained), Hard Castle Fire in Bosque County (540 acres, 70 percent contained), and Deerhead Fire in Baylor County (500 acres, 75 percent contained).

Thirty-six aircraft are staged in state, including five large air tankers, 12 single-engine air tankers, six air-attack platforms, five type 1 helicopters, two type 2 helicopters, and four type 3 helicopters.

Three strike teams, which include 42 personnel and 10 engines, are mobilized via Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System and are currently assigned to wildfires. Additionally, 391 personnel from 33 states are in Texas to support wildfire response efforts.

Stay wildfire aware, Moorehead said in the media release. If a wildfire is spotted, immediately contact local authorities. 

“A quick response can help save lives and property,” he continued.

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

editor@thepicayune.com