Easter Storm Helps And Hurts Wildfires
Hundreds of thousands of acres of Texas land has been burning since last week in wildfires scattered across Texas. Most of Central and North Texas received about an inch or more of rain Saturday night into early Easter morning. Although the storm has been a welcoming sign for some firefighters, it caused problems for other regions of Texas.
Misty Wilburn, spokesperson for the Texas Forest Service says lightening from the storm ignited the parched grasses of the Jeff Davis Mountains in West Texas. Firefighters are working to put out the fire that broke late Saturday night. The fire has already consumed more than 18 thousand acres. “That’s one of our biggest concerns you know out there in the Trans-Pecos region. The good thing is that it is not highly populated… it’s going to be a harder fire to fight since it’s going up into the mountains but you know you don’t have worry about near as many homes and things like that,” says Wilburn.
The Texas Forest Service is still working on some flames and plenty of hot spots in North Texas and along the Oklahoma border. The drought and intense winds last Thursday set off the wildfires burning more than 140 thousand acres. Strong winds forced helicopters out of the sky making it harder to contain the fires. Aircraft was able to begin dropping fire retardant in the area on Saturday. The worst of the fire has hit Montague County were three people have died. Governor Rick Perry is asking FEMA to issue an emergency declaration for 199 counties dealing with wildfire threats.
Meanwhile the Fort Hood fire department has been able to rest a bit. The Sunday morning storm helped extinguish the estimated eight-thousand wildfire on base in Killeen that started Wednesday. Station Chief Jonathan Hancock says the area is a habitat for the golden cheek warbler and the black cape vireo. “It’s an endangered bird area [and] it was burning in those areas so that’s why we really took an aggressive approach to it, otherwise a lot of those fires we’ll let burn.”
U.S Fish and Wildfire Service officials are working with Fort Hood to examine damages. The cause of wildfire is still unknown. No fire-danger weather warnings have been issued for Monday, which will be helpful to firefighters hoping the weather will cooperate to put out hot spots across the state.