By Bethany Blankley

More than 900 fire personnel have been battling over 115 wildfires in parts of Texas that have been struck by drought. Fires have spread across more than 10,242 acres.

Roughly 300 Texas A&M Forest Service firefighters and 638 out-of-state personnel from 43 state land management agencies are battling Texas wildfires.

On Wednesday, two additional Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) strike teams consisting of 32 firefighters and 10 engines were also mobilized. They joined an already active 8 TIFMAS strike teams, including one hand crew module, and up to 150 personnel and 33 engines from 40 fire departments.

There are 33 firefighting aircraft actively fighting the fires as well as two Texas Emergency Medical Task Force wildland fire support packages with a total of 10 personnel, ambulances and wildland paramedic units.

While the Houston area has been inundated with torrential downpours, other parts of the state haven’t seen any rain. The increased fire potential has worsened by excessively dry conditions. Even if some areas do get rainfall, Texas A&M Forest Service says, “No long-term improvement in fuel dryness or drought is anticipated with this week’s rainfall.”

Gov. Greg Abbott said, "The State of Texas is working day and night to provide the resources needed to help support those affected by wildfires. To ensure the safety of all Texans and their loved ones, I strongly urge everyone to remain vigilant and heed the guidance of local officials to prevent the spread of wildfires."

Abbott updated previous declarations he’d issued; a disaster declaration for wildfires now includes 83 counties and a drought disaster declaration includes 227 counties.

Fighting fires has been dangerous for crews, the forest service notes. On Tuesday, a Fire Boss Single Engine Air Tanker/Scooper crashed in Lake Livingston while responding to wildfires in Polk County. The pilot was quickly rescued and taken to shore and treated.

Forest Service crews also have assisted with multiple new ignitions in the Corrigan area, mobilizing several aircraft to assist with fire suppression efforts.

The agency’s published information about active wildfires:

Hidden Valley Fire, Brooks County - 124 acres, 95% contained
Burns Creek Fire, Washington County - 397.8 acres, 90% contained
Big Sky Fire, Gillespie County - 1,459 acres, 95% contained
Levy Fire, Washington County - 5 acres, 95% contained
Sabine 4779 Fire, Sabine County - 1 acre, 0% contained
Polk 4776 Fire, Polk County - 30 acres, 70% contained
Tyler 4766 Fire, Tyler County - 150 acres, 50% contained
Tyler 4773 Fire, Tyler County - 75 acres, 60% contained
Hickman Fire, Palo Pinto County - 1.7 acres, 90% contained
Herd Strike Fire, Callahan County - 21 acres, 85% contained
Barber Fire, Howard County - 130 acres, 0% contained
It’s also published information about contained wildfires:
Robertson 4752 Fire, Robertson County - 13 acres
Anderson 4750 Fire, Anderson County - 23 acres
Angelina 4751 Fire, Angelina County - 9 acres
Madison 4767 Fire, Madison County - 0.8 acre
Bowie 4753 Fire, Bowie County - 6 acres
Marion 4749 Fire, Marion County - 14 acres
Rusk 4772 Fire, Rusk County - 7 acres
TNT Fire, Polk County - 380 acres
Polk 4758 Fire, Polk County - 30 acres
Polk 4762 Fire, Polk County - 60 acres
Gate 6 Fire, Polk County - 200 acres
Polk 4774 Fire, Polk County - 4.3 acres
Polk 4775 Fire, Polk County - 1 acre
Tyler 4761 Fire, Tyler County - 20 acres
Tyler 4785 Fire, Tyler County - 1 acre
Walker 4760 Fire, Walker County - 29 acres
East Field Fire, Hunt County - 53.4 acres
Miexner Road Fire, McLennan County - 11 acres
Fountain Creek Fire, Trinity County - 514 acres
Sarco Fire, Goliad County - 515 acres
Hermosa Fire, Hays County - 44 acres

Texans are encouraged to use extreme caution during heightened fire conditions. This includes postponing outdoor burning until conditions improve; checking for local burn bans and other restrictions; avoiding parking and idling in tall, dry grass, as catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass under a vehicle; avoiding setting hot chainsaws or other hot, gas-powered equipment in dry grass. Texans are encouraged to use caution when pulling a trailer; loose chains can drag on the pavement and cause sparks that could ignite roadside fires.

Free wildfire resources are available at ready.gov/wildfires; tfsweb.tamu.edu/currentsitutation; and tdem.texas.gov/disasters/2022-wildfires.

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