UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:54am
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Dry, windy conditions today are expected to create ideal conditions for wildfires in the western portions of Texas, a situation expected to worsen on Tuesday.
Local emergency responders and state agencies are preparing for extremely active wildfire activity in west, central and northwest Texas – areas west of a geographic line from Fort Worth to Eagle Pass.
Drought conditions across the state, combined with dry vegetation and high winds, will increase the potential for wildfires that could spread at a rapid pace, placing lives and property in harm’s way. According to National Weather Service meteorologists, the conditions are probable for regional wildfire outbreaks.
Winds in the 35-40 mph range with gusts up to 60 mph are forecast in the Texas Panhandle on Tuesday. Similar conditions are predicted in West Texas. And over the Possum Kingdom Complex in north Texas, where responders have seen more than 126,000 acres burn in recent days, wind speeds are predicted at 25-30 mph on Tuesday, with gusts of up to 40 mph.
Evacuations are common under these conditions, said Texas Forest Service Fire Operations Chief Mark Stanford. Responders, emergency planners, and residents should be prepared to leave immediately.
Since January, more than 840 fires have consumed almost 1.5 million acres. Combined efforts of citizens taking proactive actions and a coordinated state response have saved more than 5,600 structures.