Much of Southeast Texas facing wildfire risks

Map courtesy of Texas A&M Forest ServiceWalker County has been under a burn ban since early August, when the county’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index rating average was 527. The KBDI, which is used to determine forest fire potential on a scale of zero to 800 with 800 representing absolute dry conditions, is now at 720. 

Conditions for a good portion of Southeast Texas, including many portions of Walker County, is considered dry, as a relative measure, and may present a greater risk for wildfire over the next few days.

Local forecast is for the temperature to remain in the upper-90's today, and for solid sunshine today and for the next five days.

Wildfire potential will increase significantly across West and Central Texas, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service at College Station, as temperatures remain near 100 degrees and wind speeds increase to 10 to 15 mph.

Due to the emerging drought, hot temperatures and limited rainfall this week, cured grasses and brush are highly receptive to ignitions and burning.

The Forest Service is monitoring the situation and forecasts probable wildfire activity through Monday. The greatest potential is likely to occur today when winds speeds are highest.

"The combination of hot temperatures, emerging drought and increased wind speeds will make new fires more difficult to control," said Luke Kanclerz, Texas A&M Forest Service fire analyst.

A large area of Central and West Texas could be impacted. Areas around Childress, Abilene, Waco, Austin, San Antonio, Del Rio, San Angelo and Wichita Falls will have the greatest potential.

As of Monday, 165 counties are under burn bans. Burn bans are put in place by a county judge or county commissioner when drought and weather conditions exist that make outdoor burning unsafe.

Walker County has been under a burn ban since early August, when the county’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index rating average was 527. The KBDI, which is used to determine forest fire potential on a scale of zero to 800 with 800 representing absolute dry conditions, is now at 720.

The burn ban applies to all outdoor burning on lands regulated by the county, along with residential yard waste and land clearing burns. The order does not prohibit outdoor burning related to public health and safety authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for firefighting training; public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations; planting or harvesting of agricultural crops; or controlled burns.

Texas A&M Forest Service encourages residents even in counties that are not under a burn ban to refrain from any outdoor burning until conditions improve.

 

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