The Texas A&M Forest Service along with the National Weather Service expect critical wildfire danger across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle on Sunday. Those risks are also expected in Eastern New Mexico.
Below is a full statement released by the Texas A&M Forest Service:
“Higher-end critical wildfire conditions will be present over portions of Western Texas and the Panhandle tomorrow, March 18. There is a high probability of significant wildfire outbreak or a weather phenomenon called a Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak.
The areas of concern include Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Childress, Midland/Odessa and Wichita Falls.
“With these conditions wildfires can spread rapidly, present control issues for firefighters and pose a real threat to public safety,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief Mark Stanford. “The Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreaks can be extremely dangerous if a wildfire occurs, it is important that you heed any wildfire warnings from local officials.”
Increased fire activity is a concern due to expected sustained wind speeds greater than 35 mph combining with above normal seasonal temperatures, low relative humidity and a dry line — a boundary that separates moist air mass from dry air — forming over the region.
Follow your local meteorologist or the National Weather Service for weather updates.
Texas A&M Forest Service is monitoring the situation closely and is working with local response departments as we preposition state resources, along with continued staffing of Single Engine Air Tanker bases in Amarillo, Abilene and Fort Stockton and a heavy jet air tanker is staged in Oklahoma. The Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System has been activated.
- With high fire danger, caution should be used with any outdoor activity that may cause a spark. It only takes one spark to start a wildfire.
- Postpone outdoor burning until conditions improve.
- Avoid parking and idling in tall, dry grass. Catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass under a vehicle.
- Avoid setting hot chainsaws or other hot, gas-powered equipment in dry grass.
- Wildfires burning in grass can spread and grow extremely fast. It is important that if you spot a wildfire you report it immediately to local authorities. A quick response can help save lives and property.