Officials warn of extreme fire danger, even with possibility of rain

officials warn of extreme fire danger

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Texas A &M Forest Service officials are reminding everyone not to relax over fire danger, even with the possibility of rain over the next few days.

According to the forest service, there have been more than two hundred wildfires in the eastern region of Texas just since last Wednesday.

Recent wildfires in East Texas counties are proof, say forestry officers, that we are in the traditional high risk fire season.

"Definitely not a time to relax; people need to stay vigilant with conditions the way they are right now," says Texas A & M regional fire coordinator Josh Bardwell.

The forest service has assisted East Texas fire departments on 202 wildfires in 60 counties covering 2700 acres.

"Really dry conditions, this is 200 days straight of fire season that we've been dealing with in Texas. We're in a heavy drought situation right now," says Andy McCardy of the forest service in Lufkin.

And the fires have numerous origins.

"We've had wildfires that have been lightning-caused fires. Some from that rogue cigarette butt out the window," Bardwell says.

Though rain is forecast, forestry officials say even heavy thunderstorms at this point won't make much of a difference. The dry conditions will still be there.

"It may be rain coming in 24 hours from now, 48 hours from now, but before then we get wind. Wind beforehand it continues to dry the fuels," says Bardwell.

A prolonged, saturating rain is needed for foliage.

"You d rop a spark, with the winds as high as they've been and the dry conditions, it doesn't take long for a fire to get going," says Longview Fire Marshal Kevin May.

It's a risk that we're familiar with in late summer in East Texas.

"A lot of counties are going to stay in this heightened wildfire conditions until late August and September," McCardy says.

The forestry service asks that all citizens observe the burn bans in East Texas counties that have them.

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