NWFD crews use training, experience gained from fighting wildfires across the state to combat wildfires at home.
The historic 2011 Texas wildfire season was a wake-up call for Texas Firefighters and State Emergency Management Officials. The 2011 Texas wildfires were a series of destructive fires that burned 4,000,000 acres, destroying 2,947 homes and over 2700 other structures.
Even before 2011, New Waverly Firefighters began training under standards promulgated by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. The NWCG was established in 1976 to provide national leadership to enable interoperable wildland fire operations among federal, state, and local resources.
The NWFD first deployed in 2009 to wildfires in West Texas and they saw plenty of action during the 2011 wildfires. Since that time, New Waverly crews have been deployed to every corner of the state and as far away as California, in almost every type of wildfire environment.
As the current Texas wildfire season continues to deepen, State Officials have deployed the NWFD for weeks. During these deployments, qualified Wildland Firefighters, and their apparatus form Strike Teams, working together to tackle complex tasks and assist local resources. Deployments can last up to 21 days before crews rotate home.
This week, NWFD Firefighters here at home were checking for the source of a large column of smoke when they discovered a rapidly growing forest fire on FM 946 in San Jacinto County. Recognizing the need for decisive action, two trained NWFD
Wildland Firefighters burned out along the edge of the roadway to remove dead grasses and brush that otherwise would have fueled the fire and allowed it to jump across the road into thousands of acres of dense forest. Soon after, dozer crews from the Texas A&M Forest Service arrived and working together with San Jacinto County firefighters, they successfully prevented further spread, limiting the fire to just over 20 acres.
Late Friday night, a large wildfire near Lake Livingston drew crews from all over the area, including the NWFD. As of noon Saturday, New Waverly Firefighters are still on the scene mopping up dozer lines laid out by Forest Service dozer crews.
Fire behavior experts with the Texas A&M Forest Service have cautioned that Firefighters should conduct extensive mop-up operations to prevent flare-ups, even from fully contained fires.
Most of Southeast Texas is at or near the top of Keetch-Byram Drought Index, with Walker County currently as high as 790 on the 1-800 scale, with 800 representing completely dry. Under these conditions, even a small fire can rapidly spread and may take days or even weeks to fully extinguish.
Burn Bans are in place across all of southeast Texas, with fines of up to $500 for each offense. In addition, those that burn and start a wildfire can be held responsible for any damage that they cause.
For more information on how to keep your home safe from wildfires, check out the Texas A&M Forest Service’s website at https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/ProtectYourHome/