AUSTIN (Nexstar) — At least 11 active wildfires have burned more than 2,700 acres across Texas as of 6 p.m. Monday, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.
The statewide firefighting coalition has increased their “Preparedness Level” to Level 4 out of 5, citing a “significant increase in fire activity” amid a prolonged heatwave and punishing drought.
“It definitely is getting drier [and] getting hotter, Nothing is getting better so far,” Texas A&M Forest Service’s Kiley Moran said. “The drought has definitely contributed… it’s very dry and it just takes a little spark from a piece of equipment or someone dragging their trailer chains down the road. Once it starts, the wind picks it up and it takes off.”
In Johnson County, just southwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, a 1,400-acre blaze is half-contained as of 4 p.m. Monday. The Double Back Fire is the largest single wildfire in a string of ignitions since Friday. In far south Zapata County, the Jennings Fire is burning 500 acres with no progress toward containment so far.
In Hays County, some Texans were left homeless or displaced as they rushed out of their homes over the weekend. That Oak Grove fire has burned at least 400 acres and is 75% contained.
The Forest Service is warning Texans to know the heightened hazards that can quickly spark an out-of-control blaze.
“Even some things you may not usually think about like grinding on some metal, welding, using equipment, shredding, and mowing. You can hit a rock, in causes a spark, and when it is as dry as it is right now, even that little bit of a spark can start a fire,” Moran said.
More than two-thirds of Texas, 168 counties, is under a burn ban as of Monday. Check your local county website for specific restrictions and guidelines.