East Texas rain diminishes upcoming wildfire threat

East Texas rain diminishes upcoming wildfire threat

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - After an abnormally wet start to the new year, experts say the threat of wild fires is becoming a more unlikely possibility for East Texas forests.

Andy McCrady, the statewide fuels coordinator, said he is comfortable with where our forests stand.

"As a whole right now, things are really going well in East Texas," McCrady said. "We've come out of the drought that we were in over the last several years, we've been getting a lot of rain, and things are looking a lot healthier."

"Several years ago, when it was much drier during the drought, we did see larger wildfires, things that took longer to control and actually took a concerted effort to handle," McCrady said.

McCrady pays special attention to our forests after weather changes like we have seen because the debris that collects in the forests can become the ideal fuel for wildfires.

"Even though we've been getting the rainfall, we are going to have dormant vegetation our there, and so those fuels sometimes are more receptive to actually starting on fire," McCrady said. "But it takes a lot of days without rain for that to happen, and we haven't seen that."

If you happen to see smoke coming from nearby, McCrady explained that the forest service is most likely doing some forest housekeeping.

"We'll light controlled fires to burn across the landscape and control some of the smaller fuels that build up, especially when we have a lot of rainfall, and what we are able to do is control those fuels in a safe manner using these prescribed fires, so that when we do get into a time of year when it is drier outside or a drought, we won't have the threat of wildfire from those fuels." McCrady said.

McCrady explained that routine prescribed fires helps lower the risk of wildfires, as we enter in to drier months.

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