Milder weather in East Texas gives firefighters a reprieve so far this year

Independence Day is the busiest day out of the year for firefighters responding to calls across East Texas. But, "mother nature" may be giving a little bit of reprieve this summer. Just one year ago today, firefighters battled a very active wildfire season on little to no budgets.

"If you remember, this time last year, we did have, you know some burn bans in effect for a long time," said City of Lufkin Fire Marshall, Steve McCool.

Clouds of smoke and relentless flames have not been a cause of concern for forest officials and firefighters, so far this year, in East Texas.

"We're not taking any risks though. We're still going through the necessary training and staying prepared, just in case we do have a year. Anything like last year would be dangerous," said McCool.

On this same date last year, what became the largest wildfire in East Texas history began in Trinity and Polk counties. The Bearing Fire charred 22-thousand acres of the Pineywoods as crews worked tirelessly to smother the blaze.

"We spent a substantial amount more than we have in years past," said McCool.

So far this year, Hudson District Fire Coordinator, Jeff Durant, says his district of The Texas Forest Service has only responded to five wildfires, since the season began in January.

They've been pretty small, two or three acres, probably the biggest one about five acres in our district. Some of the surrounding districts have been 30 or 40 acres, somewhere in that neighborhood," said Durant.

Durant says more rain, lower temperatures, and abundant humidity have kept fires from raging.

"A lot less damage, a lot less homes destroyed, a lot less timber destroyed, and we're getting a little of rest compared to what we had last year, recouping on our equipment and resources and be ready for what may come next," said Durant.

Fire crews are using the quieter fire season to train and regroup in anticipation for whatever may come their way.

"We can't control mother nature, but we can still be careful with fire," said Durant.

During the latest lull in wildfires, the City of Lufkin has had time to train and state-certify 12 firefighters to respond to wildfires.

The Texas Forest Service is educating the public about fire prevention and timber management.

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