Fire officials warn of conditions perfect for wildfires

Wildfire Command Center

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - East Texas fire officials are preparing for a dangerous period when conditions are conducive for wildfires.

With only a very slim chance of rain forecast for at least another week, dry conditions have officials checking every variable indicator of current fire danger. One-hundred-sixty-one Texas counties are now under a burn ban, 10 of them in East Texas.

Working out of his command truck, Gregg County Fire Marshal Mark Moore says conditions are very dangerous right now.

“Look at your weather, look at your wind speed your relative humidity. This is touchy, we need to be vigilant,” he says.

With 100-plus temperatures over the next few days, and heat index above that, it’s a reminder of what conditions were in 2011.

"We had never seen crown fires in East Texas like we did in 2011," Moore says.

But much has been learned about how to fight woodland fires since the summer of 2011.

"We learned a lot of things about fire progression," the fire marshal says.

And they've got new tools to use in battling big blazes.

“Longview Fire Department has a Type 3 ‘TIFMS’ wildland fire engine. Where you would see it deployed is in a neighborhood in a wildland area. Tools and equipment and personnel that would be on this truck are designed to go in and prepare and intercept that fire,” says Longview Fire Chief J.P. Steelman.

Monitoring is all that can be done right now, and the forest service is doing what it can to observe woodland areas.

"We've been working hard to be better prepared should we find ourselves in the midst of another 2011 with wildfires encroaching on our city," Steelman says.

Fire Marshal Moore says a very wet late spring-early summer has contributed to the fire danger by creating more vegetation - vegetation which has now become potential fuel.

Copyright 2019 KLTV. All rights reserved.