Fuels & Fire Behavior Advisory issued for multiple states due to extreme fire risk

Map of area currently under abnormal fire behavior advisory; Source: OK Forestry Service
Map of area currently under abnormal fire behavior advisory; Source: OK Forestry Service
Aftermath of a fire in Potter County; Source: KFDA
Aftermath of a fire in Potter County; Source: KFDA
Flames from a fire burning in the middle of the night; Source: KFDA
Flames from a fire burning in the middle of the night; Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - With a windy and warm forecast, a Fuel & Fire Behavior Advisory has been issued for parts of West Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The behavior advisory warns that extreme and abnormal fire behavior is possible, even in moderate conditions.

Luckily, the Woods Fire, that sparked yesterday Arlie Road, did not exhibit abnormal behavior. Fire officials say they are still worried about the next few days.

They are warning residents and emergency crews about the increased risk as we enter into the high points of fire season.

"Basically what we're seeing this year is some erratic fire behavior, more than normal," said Fire Management Chief Mark Goeller for the Oklahoma Forestry Service.

So far this season, fire crews across multiple states have witnessed abnormal fire activity.

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Chief Goeller said that stems from heavy rains last year mixed with a drought.

"Because of the growth of fuel, the drought, and the lack of rainfall that equates to more fuel that's available to burn," said Chief Goeller.

Each year, fire officials measure the amount of potential fuel and energy that can be released in a blaze.

This year, historic maximums for potential energy are being reached.

"Currently we're over our 90th percentile of historic maximums, in some places over the 97th percentile of historic maximums," said Chief Goeller.

The more energy a fire releases makes it tougher for fire crews to knock down the flames.

Potter County Fire Chief Richard Lake says certain types of plants can also make fires burn longer and hotter.

"We have a lot of plum thicket, we have a lot of sage, we'll have yucca," said Chief Lake. "Yucca will hold heat, and it will keep burning even after you come through and put it out it will light back off and start the grasses around it back on fire."

Once an area burns, it can stay charred for some time.

The excess moisture, however, means some areas that burned recently have the potential to burn again.

"We're seeing that just within a couple of years to a year, that it's capable of burning again," said Chief Lake. "That's due to the abundance of moisture, that creates a thick more hardy fuel."

Homeowners are being told to be prepared.

"They really need to be cognitive of the situation that we're in currently, and the probability of having a catastrophic fire is very high," said Chief Lake.

For tips on how to be prepared and protect your home in the event of a wildfire visit the National Fire Protection Association's website or Ready, Set, Go!

Thursday, March 15 will be a First Alert Weather Day.

Residents are advised to stay aware of fire danger.

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