Wildfire danger remains top concern

High temperatures and winds, combined with dry conditions, have the Lone Star State facing increased wildfire danger.

As of mid-August, over 195 counties were under a burn ban.

“Texas A&M Forest Service is working closely with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, fire departments and local jurisdictions across the state to monitor conditions and assess needs locally to best position resources for a quick and effective response to any request for assistance,” Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service fire chief, said. “It is vitally important that everyone be mindful of current conditions and remain diligent with any activity that creates sparks.”

The heat wave has some areas of the state experiencing record temperatures, and the latest drought report from the Texas Water Development Board shows nearly 70% of the state is suffering from drought.

“Fire danger is high across the state, and there’s plenty of fuel to burn. The lush, green vegetation from the spring rains is now dry and catches fire easily,” Tracy Tomascik, Texas Farm Bureau associate director of Commodity and Regulatory Activities, said. “Farmers and ranchers are carefully watching their property, crops and livestock to keep an eye out for fire danger.”

In addition to wildfire danger, the dry weather and high temperatures have farmers and ranchers carefully monitoring their livestock and crops.

Livestock, plants, trees and other forages and vegetation experience heat stress during the extreme high temperatures.

“Vegetation is quickly drying up, if it isn’t dry already, and ranchers have started providing supplemental feed and hay,” Tomascik said.

Although the spring rains allowed many ranchers to make one or more cuttings of hay, supplies are still low after last year’s devastating drought.

“Cattle performance also typically declines in high temperatures like those we’ve been experiencing this summer,” Tomascik said. “Their grazing may also be reduced because they are trying to avoid the sun.”

This summer has set records in some areas for the number of days without measurable precipitation. In June, most of the state recorded multiple days over 100 degrees, and it was one of the 10 hottest months on record for South Texas.

Wildfire activity will continue to be a concern this summer and heading into the fall.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for wildfire activity in 191 counties. Additional counties may be added as conditions warrant.

“The state of Texas continues working with local officials to respond to critical wildfire activity across the entire state,” Abbott said. “I issued a disaster declaration to surge the deployment of additional resources and assistance to 191 counties currently experiencing dangerous wildfire conditions. As we continue to respond to wildfire conditions across the state, Texas is ready to provide additional resources and aid to impacted communities. I commend the bravery and service of the hundreds of emergency personnel and firefighters who have swiftly responded to the wildfires to protect their fellow Texans and communities. Texans are encouraged to remain weather-aware and heed the guidance of state and local officials.”

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