By Bethany Blankley
Firefighters are battling multiple wildfires this week as persistent threats remain during triple-digit heat and ongoing drought conditions.
The Texas A&M Forest Services is currently battling 22 wildfires with 45 wildfires so far contained, according to its incident wildfire map.
More than 115 firefighting personnel are responding to fires statewide, including seven strike teams and a hand crew deployed through the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System. Land management agencies from 36 states are also supporting the firefighting response in Texas with 535 personnel and 145 pieces of equipment.
Gov. Greg Abbott is asking Texans to remain vigilant as the state is coordinating an aggressive response.
"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," he said.
Both the Chalk Mountain Fire in Somervell County and the 1148 Fire in Palo Pinto County have caused local officials to issue voluntary evacuation orders for residents.
The Texas A&M Forest Service warns that critically to extremely dry vegetation and critical fire weather will likely increase wildfire activity this week. Regions it identifies as “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 also has expanded to northeast Texas, it warns, including near Palestine, Crockett, Huntsville, Tyler and Marshall.
The forest service mobilized at least 105 dozers, 87 engines, and three motograders across Texas. It’s also activated 38 aircraft, including five large airtankers, one very large airtanker, 12 single engine airtankers, one lead place, five air attack platforms, and 12 helicopters to support firefighters.
There are also 35 Texas Emergency Medical Task Force personnel available to assist at any moment, including five Medical Unit leaders, 12 Wildland Paramedic Units, eight personnel in UTVs, and 10 ambulance personnel.
Abbott renewed two disaster declarations; one wildfire disaster declaration for 72 counties and a drought disaster declaration for 189 counties. According to the latest update from the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 99% of Texas is experiencing some level of drought conditions.
There are currently 212 counties with burn bans, the forest service reports.
Texans who sustain damage related to wildfires are encouraged to submit damage assessments through TDEM’s self-reporting survey at damage.tdem.texas.gov and select "Wildfire Outbreak.”
Texans can also visit ready.gov/wildfires for wildfire preparedness tips.
Active wildfires include:
1148 Fire, Palo Pinto County - 500 acres, 10% contained
Whitby Fire, Shackelford County - 20 acres, 95% contained
Nelson Creek Fire, Walker County - 1,800 acres, 50% contained
Stanifer Branch Fire, Bosque County - 160 acres, 50% contained
Hemple Drive Fire, Coryell County - 15 acres, 0% contained
Salado Brook Fire, Williamson County - 46.8 acres, 50% contained
Landua Fire, Washington County - 10 acres, 90% contained
Holly Fire, Trinity County - 350 acres, 90% contained
Wilson Canyon Fire, Erath County - 115 acres, 75% contained
King Creek Fire, Kaufman County - 500 acres, 65% contained
Honey Creek Fire, Uvalde County - 350 acres, 5% contained