Texas
11:12 am
Fri April 29, 2011

Extreme Fire Conditions Forecast Today Across Texas

Ten major wildfires are still burning across Texas today, an area that spans 562,004 acres. No new fires were reported on Thursday, but extreme fire conditions are predicted across West Texas today, with red flag warnings in effect. Some two-million acres have already been scorched in Texas since January 1.

One bit of news from the Texas Forest Service. It says the Possum Kingdom wildfire, which burned more than 126,000 acres, has been completely contained.

Here in Central Texas, firefighters are working to contain a small, one alarm brush fire this morning in Manor at 18420 Blake Manor Road. (Update at 11:30 am: Manor's fire department says the brush fire has been contained.) A Red Flag Warning is in effect in this region until 9 p.m. tonight due to gusty and dry south winds.

The greater Austin region is still experiencing intense drought conditions. Most counties in the region are in "extreme drought", as categorized by the US Drought Monitor. Bastrop County, however, is suffering from "exceptional drought", the most extreme level on the drought scale. The Bastrop Advertiser reports that six out-of-state firefighters are stationed at the Bastrop Volunteer Fire Department as part of a task force.

Bastrop fire chief Henry Perry said he is glad to have them aboard.

“These firefighters bring a lot of experience from fighting larger wildfires,” Perry said. “They’ve seen some fires we haven’t seen yet.”

Governor Rick Perry blasted the Obama administration yesterday for not responding to a request for disaster relief, the San Antonio Express-Newsreports.

“Why are you taking care of Alabama, why are you taking care of other states, and for some reason,” Perry started to say at a news conference in San Antonio, pausing in midsentence before adding, “The letter didn't get lost in the mail.”

Last week, President Obama took a shot at Governor Perry during this interview with Dallas-Fort Worth ABC affiliate WFAA.

 "Governor Perry helped balance his budget with about $6 billion worth of federal help, which he happily took, and then started blaming the members of Congress who had offered that help," Obama told WFAA's Brad Watson. "I think that there's a little inconsistency there."

Here's the latest wildfire report from the Texas Forest Service:

Current wildfire status - April 29, 2011

Extreme fire weather conditions are predicted in West Texas today with red flag warnings in effect. Map attached.

Recent response:Texas Forest Service responded to no new large fires yesterday (Thursday, April 28).
The PK Complex is 100 percent contained at 126,734 acres.
We’re currently working on 10 major fires burning 562,004 acres. 
212 of the 254 Texas counties are reporting burn bans (view map). 

Uncontained fires:

ROCKHOUSE, Presidio and Jeff Davis counties.  299,363 acres, 66 percent contained.  Twenty-three homes and two commercial structures were destroyed in the Fort Davis area in the initial burning period. The Buffalo Trail Boy Scout Ranch remains threatened. Approximately 400 firefighters and support personnel continue to work the fire burning in heavy brush and pinyon-juniper in Madera Canyon. Difficult terrain is causing control problems on the west side of the fire.  Crews continue to conduct burnout operations. MAFFs airtankers flew numerous missions Thursday to help support ground operations.  A base camp for hundreds of firefighters has been set up at the Fort Davis State Park. 

DEATON COLE, Val Verde County.  62,000 acres, 10 percent contained. The fire is in rugged terrain 30 miles southwest of Ozona, burning in tall grass and brush. Numerous ranch houses are threatened.  Multiple heavy airtankers dropped retardant throughout the day, but the fire continued to move rapidly through the dry brush. Today’s winds are expected to push the fire toward Ozona.

CR 266, Duval County.  1,500 acres, 95 percent contained.  Eight homes are threatened on this fire burning in tall grass six miles southeast of Realitos.

SCOTT RANCH, Irion County.  11,233 acres, 90 percent contained.  The fire is burning in tall grass and brush 12 miles northeast of Barnhart.  Extreme fire behavior is occurring and the fire is burning through areas with oil and gas wells and storage tanks. 

PLEASANT FARMS, Ector County (and C-BAR, Crane County).  12,800 acres, 80 percent contained.  The C-Bar and Pleasant Farms fires burned together.  All information will be reported under Pleasant Farms. Seventy-five homes are threatened; one has been lost on this fire 15 miles southwest of Odessa.

OASIS, Kimble County.  9,100 acres, 80 percent contained.Twenty homes are threatened on the fire four miles northwest of Telegraph. Very active fire behavior was observed Thursday. 

BOYS RANCH, Potter and Oldham counties.  500 acres, 85 percent contained. The fire is burning in tall grass 17 miles northwest of Amarillo. Six homes were saved.

CHAMPION, Mitchell County.  1,000 acres, 75 percent contained. Six homes are threatened on this fire five miles south of Colorado City.  Three homes were lost.  The acreage decrease was due to GPS mapping.

FULLER, Scurry County.  5,200 acres, 90 percent contained.  The fire is 15 miles northwest of Snyder. Three Texas Forest Service taskforces and a Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) strike responded, along with numerous heavy airtankers and helicopters.

WILDCAT, Coke County.  159,308 acres, 95 percent contained. This fire is burning in tall grass north of San Angelo. More than 400 homes have been saved, one was destroyed.  The communities of Grape Creek, Quail Valley, Bronte, Robert Lee, Tennyson and Orient were threatened, but all evacuation orders have been lifted.   

Weather Outlook:

West Texas: Extreme fire weather conditions are expected this afternoon across areas west of a dry line that will stretch from Amarillo to Midland, extending to the southwest across the Guadalupe Mountains and far west Texas.

East Texas:  Elevated fire weather conditions expected today across the southern two-thirds of East Texas as winds become onshore ahead of a deepening low pressure system over southeastern Colorado. Highs will be in the 80s across all but the extreme northeastern counties, which will remain in the upper 70s.

Prevention messages:

Obey outdoor burning bans. Don’t burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Texas.
Keep lawn mowers and agricultural equipment in proper working condition and avoid rocks and other materials which might cause a spark.
To report suspicious activities, call the Arson Hotline at (888) 501-3850. If possible, safely obtain an accurate description of the person and/or vehicle (including the license number) before calling the hotline. 
Humans cause more than 90 percent of all wildfires. Do not weld or cut without a spotter, a water source and a shovel