West Texas fire services prepare for possible wildfires

Updated: Mar. 10, 2021 at 10:16 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - In response to the high winds and dry conditions the Texas Panhandle is experiencing this week, many fire services are taking extra precautions to help minimize wildfires.

Extra resources and staff by both area fire departments and the Texas A&M Forest service are proving to be beneficial in keeping the spread of wildfires today to a minimum.

“There’s a chance for significant fire danger as well as a high probable chance if we do have a fire, it’s going to show and exhibit a high fire behavior,” said James DeGrazia, wildland urban interface coordinator, Texas A&M Forest Service.

It’s because of that risk of fire danger this week, additional fire resources and strike teams have been brought to the Panhandle region.

“We moved our task forces throughout the panhandle so that we could equalize response times to all counties of the Panhandle,” said DeGrazia.

Resources have been placed throughout the high plains, such as Dumas, Canadian and Amarillo to help with response times.

“The best way for us to respond to a wildfire is by having individuals in the right place to shorten the time response to assist the fire departments,” said DeGrazia.

Area fire departments are bringing in extra resources too.

“Typically, we are in a reactive state. We wait for the calls to come in. When we are aware of these events coming in. We try and be more proactive. So, we man up a lot of extra apparatus. Call in guys that are off duty and make sure all this stuff is manned so that way if one of these fires kicks off, we’re not playing catch up,” Cody Snyder, public information officer, Amarillo Fire Department.

Snyder says this week extra staff have been available to help, sometimes even sending extra trucks to fires in case a fire spreads quickly.

“We keep them all staffed and ready to go so that way when something comes in, we’re already ahead of the curve and hopefully these things don’t get out of control too quickly,” said Snyder.

Preparations are already paying off this week in extinguishing fires quickly.

“We were able to move a strike team to quickly assist one of their two fires that they had over here as well as behind me, you can see that we were able to assist Randall County at the same time from our Amarillo office,” said DeGrazia.

DeGrazia says when resources are brought in, they are typically deployed for a 14-day period.

The resources brought to the Texas Panhandle this week will remain here for the next two weeks but can be moved around to different parts of the region if needed.

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