Firefighters gearing up for wildfire season during East Texas Wi - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Firefighters gearing up for wildfire season during East Texas Wildfire Academy

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Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -

Officials with Texas A&M Forest Service said there have been nearly 300 wildfires they have responded to this year, and they say that's quite a lot.

Now, they are training firefighters to be ready to tackle any blaze during the summer months.

In Texas, 80 percent of wildfires happen within two miles of a community.

Right now Texas A&M Forest Service officials say we are in a wet pattern.

 However, as we enter the summer months, the risk of wild fires will increase.

"As we transition into the summer time drying, you'll definitely see some fire instances across the state this year," said Rich Gray, task force coordinator.

That possibility prompted Captain Charles Cox with the Beaumont Fire Department to attend this training at the 17th Annual East Texas Wildfire Academy.

Cox has been with his department for 34 year,s and after assisting with disasters like Hurricane Sandy and the Bastrop fires, he said its important for everyone to do their job.

"Whether it's a wildfire, hurricane, or tornado, the way these programs are set up its all about everyone knowing what their roles are," Cox said.

The academy is a mixture of classroom work, hands on training, and field activity.

Captain Lee Jones with the Lubbock Fire Department said his department recently received a brush truck, and the courses he's taking will help bridge the gap between wildfire and structural firefighting.

"We're trying to get more trained up on the wild land side of things so we'll be more functional on the truck if it's deployed out," Jones said.

More than 20,000 acres have been destroyed by wild fires this year.

There are currently 78 counties in Texas with burn bans.

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