Fire Danger Could Be The Worst In At Least A Decade - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/23/05-Smith County

Fire Danger Could Be The Worst In At Least A Decade

"People don't intend to go out and start fires with their debris burning [in a brush pile]."

Brad Smith says, right now, it's getting just too dry.

"We're very concerned about where we're going this summer," he says.

The Fire Behavior Analyst with the Texas Forest Service says fire is behaving like it's July and August, not the end of May. And it spells bad news for what really is the fire season -- later in the summer.

"I've looked back through some of our records and through the history of some of our weather stations, we're maxing out -- the historical highs for a 30 year period," he says. "It's the worst I've seen."

The official drought index is reaching 500 in some areas, where many counties start considering burn bans. Smith says those numbers will only go higher.

When winds increase, the fire situation will be even more dire.

"It will feed itself by sending embers out in front of it, and cause spot fires. It just kind of leapfrogs," he says.

The Forest Service has already launched detection aircraft looking for smoke from new fires. That is well ahead of schedule.

"We normally don't start flying aircraft until late June or July."

Reported by Morgan Palmer.


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