High wind speeds and its effect on fires

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Wildfires kicking up all over the High Plains is nothing new for people in the Texas Panhandle, but it’s not very common this late in the calendar.

Michael Gittinger, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the Natonal Weather Service said, “Typically our fire season is in the winter and it peaks in February or March, and then we start to green up.”

“These are the wettest months out of the year for the texas panhandle, but this year is different,” said Chief Meteorologist John Harris. “We are in a drought right now. I think after today we get back more of a normal June pattern.”

The Amarillo Fire Department officials said a fire in Northeast Amarillo started today when someone was using a burn barrel for trash, but the high winds caused a nearby trailer home to catch on fire. Due to the high winds, embers from the fire found their way to neighboring buildings, also causing some damage.

Capt. Cody Snyder, AFD’s public information officer explained, “Out in an open field, it would have been probably a mile ahead of us, we’d be playing catch up, it would have been a lot bigger deal than it was. Fortunately, this fire today was in the city limits and slowed down. If we don’t get to those quickly we’re playing catch up sometimes up to several days.”

Luckily the embers did not make it across the street where there are a couple of acres of open land.

On days with conditions like this, AFD has more firefighters on duty just in case.

“When we expect high wind days with dry fuels, we have grass rigs and wildland units that are extra units of the fire station,” said Capt. Snyder. “On a typical day those are cross-manned, so if we have something come in on a normal day someone from one of our engines, one of our ladders will jump over to that truck and take it as they need it. On days like today, we call extra personnel in.”

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