East Texas academy aims to fight wildfires

East Texas academy aims to fight wildfires

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - East Texas firefighters in training are working hard to build their firefighting skills in order to keep us safe.

You may think that just because of recent rainfall and flooding that the Deep East Texas area is safe from wildfires, but according to wildfire experts that's not the case.

Due to the wet spring, fewer acres were used in controlled burns. That means our area has more vegetation on that ground which is fuel for fire.

"It's able to spread by the stuff that's on the ground. Right now it's kind of moist, so it's a lower probability, but some stuff like the pine needles that can definitely still burn", said Tina Neely, a wild and urban interface coordinator.

It's volunteers like Neely that are spending their time training students on not only fire safety, but educating them on methods to protect you in the event of a wildfire.

“We're actually digging fire lines, which are essentially a break in fuels that could burn in a fire, in order to help contain a fire," Neely said.

And it's that fuel that firefighter Joey Silva said can cause your home to go up in flames in no time.

“It will take long for a fire to get from something as small as an acre to something as big as a 100 acres in minutes, especially with the right winds and fuel conditions," Silva said.

You know that common misconception that you should keep plants and shrubs away from your home? Neely said it's not entirely true.

"I know a lot of people think that they want you to cut all the trees and grass and bushes down away from your home, and that's actually not the case. You can still have beautiful landscaping and still make it safe for your home," Neely said.

Although Silva teaches the value of fire safety to his students, it's a lesson that can be learned by all.

"Just being fire savvy. Having that fire wise community set in place and having a good understanding of fire and fire behavior," Silva said.

Neely said the best resource for information on how you can prevent a wildfire is your local fire station.

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