Forest Service using cutting-edge technology to fight forest fires - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Forest Service using cutting-edge technology to fight forest fires

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By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – The record high temperatures are a recipe for another dangerously dry summer.

But this year, the Texas Forest Service is ready to fight forest fires with cutting-edge technology.

It's the first time this 12,000 pound mulching machine has been used in Angelina County.

"Fire activity in East Texas has been picking up. The drier it gets, the longer we go without rain. The soil dries out, the trees dry out, and the slightest spark can cause a fire," said Fire Wise Representative for the Texas Forest Service, Jan Amen.  "On a windy day like today, if you have a fire coming through an area, this will slow the fire down."

What you see is what you get with this heavy hydraulic monster.

Metal teeth grind away at accumulating forest debris, a major fire hazard.

"It breaks it down and it actually distributes it as it's chopping it up," said Education Coordinator for the Texas Forestry Museum, David Young.

Hurricane Ike recovery funding paid for the Mulcher to clear hurricane debris. The machine will also help clean up some of the mess the December tornado left behind.

"There were a lot of limbs on the ground, trees on the ground. This is going to help the museum be safer from the threat of wild fire in addition to the subdivision behind the museum," said Amen.

Spreading the material evenly across these forest floors also makes it easier for nature lovers.

"It had become to a point where it was so overgrown that we were having difficulty moving around there and doing educational programs. Being able to clear it out really made a difference," said Young.

The machine could save property and lives. Fire officials expect, it will get put to good use this summer.

Forestry officials want to remind you that little things, like parking your car on grass, or barbeque-ing on a grassy surface can spark huge fires.

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