Fire officials expect enhanced fire danger in East Texas

Fire officials expect enhanced fire danger in East Texas
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Every red square you see here is a Texas county under a burn ban right now and with drought-like conditions – a wildfire can spark in a moment's notice.

"Basically right now we're in conditions where it's been dry for so long that the fuels have dried out. In fact, our Keetch-Byram drought index is in the 700 range here in Angelina County," said Todd Nightingale with the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Counties like Angelina, Nacogdoches, and many others in the Pineywoods are in the red, indexed in the 700-800 range.

New this year, foresters and fire fighters alike are experiencing drier than normal conditions due to low humidity in the area.

"We're finally getting the very, very low relative humidity, coupled with some lighter winds on top of a drought. It's the first we're going to see this year that we could really have some potential for some big fires getting started if something was to ignite," Nightingale said.

That was likely the case in a video from the Texas A&M Forest Service which show an aircraft flying over the Hidden Pines fire in Bastrop County.

It is a far cry from the several inches of rain here in the area just months ago in the spring. It was conditions like those that caused vegetation to grow, which in turn serves as fuel for fire.

"The drought we're in right now is very tough. It's a flash-drought situation, where we really just stepped off of a really wet spring into a very dry summer and fall. That coupled with people wanting to get outside this time of year, it increase the number of people out there," Nightingale said.

Meaning now, more than ever, the best advice may very well be …

"Pray for rain," Nightingale said.

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