A 50,000-acre fire in Stonewall County jumped the Brazos River on Thursday and spread 12 miles in four hours. That’s what Texans can expect throughout the weekend, as critical drought conditions, high temperatures and high winds are combining to create a perfect storm for wildfire.
A study released this week shows that last month was the driest March in Texas history since 1895. That combined with the fact that 90 percent of Texas wildfires are caused by humans means seemingly-innocuous activities like burning trash or parking a car on the grass could spark a fire that could threaten homes and property.
Conditions are in place for significant fire danger Saturday in West Texas and the Panhandle. On Sunday, the critical region expands to the east, encompassing parts of Central and North Texas, including the heavily-populated areas of Fredericksburg, Waco, Granbury, Wichita Falls and Gainesville (see attached map).
“There are times when fuels dominate wildfire occurrence and times when weather dominates,” said Predictive Services Department Head Tom Spencer. “When they come together as they are now, you have the perfect storm, and wildfire becomes a force of nature.”
During high-risk days, outdoor activities that can cause a spark should be avoided. In the past seven days, Texas Forest Service has responded to 92 fires burning 82,560 acres.
In addition to taking steps to avoid a wildfire, families should have a plan in case one occurs.
“Families throughout Texas should sit down and come up with an action plan that details how to exit the home and where to meet if a fire threatens their area,” said Justice Jones, wildland urban interface program coordinator for Texas Forest Service. “There are also proactive measures you can take to protect your property. Your home and yard can be your first line of defense in the event of a fire. Create an area around your home that is free of flammable plants and other items.”