TOPSHOT-US-ENVIRONMENT-FIRE

TOPSHOT - Firefighters struggle to contain backfire in the Pollard Flat area of California in the Shasta Trinity National Forest on September 6, 2018. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Drought conditions in the western High Plains and South Plains and early drying across the state have led to an early start to the summer wildfire season.

Most of the state is trending three to four weeks ahead of typical early summer drying. Fire activity is also increasing earlier than normal, and the rainfall outlook over the next six weeks is not anticipated to be enough to reverse these trends.

Wildfire analysts with Texas A&M Forest Service report Texas could experience a severe summer wildfire season.

“The dryness we are currently seeing across portions of the state is, generally, what we would be experiencing in mid- to late-July,” said Brad Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services department head.

“The drought that will carry over from the spring into the summer and the emerging drought that is developing in June have initiated an early start to the summer fire season. Early summer drying in June also introduces the possibility of experiencing a severe late-summer fire season.”

Under these conditions, state officials are tracking an increased number of wildfire ignitions occurring across Texas. Since June 9, Texas A&M Forest Service and local fire departments responded to 90 wildfires that burned a total of 21,692 acres. Many of the recent wildfires are attributed to equipment use, welding, debris burning and roadside starts.

“Texas is experiencing an uptick in wildfire activity across most of the state, and it’s easy to think that a wildfire won’t impact you until you see the smoke on the horizon,” said Kari Hines, Texas A&M Forest Service Firewise coordinator.

“Now is the time to prepare your house and property to make them wildfire resilient. Create an evacuation plan for your family that includes pets and livestock. Look for the buildup of dead and dry vegetative material around your house, the driveway, and other important buildings, as this is where embers can gather and start fires.”

Protect with preparation

Successfully preparing for a wildfire requires everyone to take personal responsibility for protecting themselves, their families and their properties.

Texas A&M Forest Service encourages Texans to take the following steps around their homes today to reduce the risk of wildfire:

• Clean out gutters of debris.

• Mow and water lawns.

• Move firewood a minimum of 30 feet from homes.

• Remove anything stored under decks or porches.

• Make sure home addresses are visible from the road.

If a wildfire is spotted, contact local authorities immediately. A quick response can help save lives and property.

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