NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - When local firefighters need help fighting a large woods or grassland fire, a call is placed to the Texas Interagency Coordination Center located in Hudson.
East Texas News got a behind-the-scenes look at how the center mobilizes resources from all over the United States to support disaster relief in Texas.
The Texas Interagency Coordination Center, or the TICC, doesn't need a lot of space to fulfill a tremendous responsibility.
"Relay that I contacted you guys to see if that is acceptable," a dispatcher said.
The expanded dispatch room is the hub of resources for firefighters called in to help local fire departments. This week, five additional dispatchers are here to coordinate assistance for fires in West Texas and the Panhandle.
"I'm from North Carolina," one dispatcher said.
"It's always important because we're trying to get the resources out to the fires as soon as possible because they can't control the fire without having the resources," said Diane Bolt, a retired U.S. Forest Service dispatcher.
The first request is usually for personnel. Those who sign up come from numerous agencies from anywhere in the U.S.
Right now, crews from 25 states are assisting in Texas firefighting efforts. Center manager Dana Harris with the U.S. Forest Service manages the coordinated effort.
"Whoever is closest to the fire, whether it's TFS or U.S. Forest Service, we help each other out," Harris said. "Whoever's resources are closest and can get to the fire the quickest go."
Just as urgent is managing equipment and supplies.
"What we're seeing right now is what we call our cache," said Karen Stafford, a Texas Forest Service state coordinator for wildfire prevention. "It's basically a large warehouse."
Stafford knows the warehouse must be filled with the essential tools and gear firefighters need to do their job effectively and safely.
"You see the greens and the yellows," Stafford said. This is what the firefighters actually wear on the fire line."
And that's just a fraction of what's being utilized at this moment to contain a Panhandle fire.
"We have 15 dozers, 49 fire engines, and a 150 overhead," Stafford said. "Overhead are the individual people, so we have 150 people in Texas fighting fires."
similar out-of-control fires have occurred in East Texas and likely will again. TICC provides reassurance, like that symbolized by a rainbow amidst the smoke, that relief is on its way.
This Friday, Nacogdoches firefighters will return home from West Texas.
The fire there was contained yesterday, but the Panhandle fires still burn, and they are just 23-percent contained.
When things slow down, resources can go out of state to repay the help they were shown.