Panhandle Wildfires Could Be Just The Beginning Of A Dangerous Season

Windy and dry weather, combined with dormant grass, provide the perfect conditions for wildfires to spread.

By Michael MarksJanuary 23, 2018 7:13 am|

Two wildfires broke out Monday in Parker County, west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The fires blackened 2000 acres, and forced the closure of two interstate highways in area. Many homes and schools were evacuated.

Phillip Truitt, communications specialist of the Texas A&M Forest Service, says this week’s fire could signal a difficult season for the region. Dry and windy conditions brought about by the current La Niña weather pattern are likely to continue, leading to a lot of dormant grass which becomes fuel for wildfires.

“You combine that with the lack of rainfall and warmer temperatures, we’re going to have a busy wildfire season,” Truitt says.

Truitt notes that the A&M Forest Service has been monitoring weather conditions for 100 years. He says these conditions often occur in 10-year cycles.

“If you have a big group of cycles, you get a lot of rainfall, more mild temperatures then you get another cycle of  where there’s less rainfall or more extremes,” Truitt says.

Truitt says that in order to prevent wildfires from happening in areas like the Panhandle, property owners should have a grazing program in place in order to reduce the amount of grass available to fuel a fire. Homeowners can create what he calls “defensible space,” Clear up to 30 feet of space around your home, keep the yard mowed, and trim trees six to nine feet above the ground.

 

Written by Angela Bonilla.