‘It has the highest severe potential to become a severe wildfire”: Panhandle crews prepare for possible wildfire outbreaks

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 8:39 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - As the High Plains continue to have critically dry fuels along with high winds and high temperatures, the area is looking at elevated wildfire conditions for the remainder of the week, with the biggest concern being tomorrow.

Texas A&M Forest Service says there is a possibility for Wednesday to be a Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak Day.

“Which is basically a weather phenomenon where everything lines up and we’re looking at if a wildfire does start that it has the highest severe potential to become a severe wildfire,” said Juan Rodriguez, WUI coordinator, Texas A&M Forest Service.

They are making preparations for tomorrow’s events such as, bringing in out of branch resources.

“So, with additional resources being brought in we will be able to staff more equipment and have more people to be able to preposition all over the Panhandle, tomorrow we are possibly looking at propositioning some resources up in Canadian just in case,” said Rodriguez.

Not only have more resources been brought into Amarillo, but also in Childress and Lubbock.

Three single engine aircraft tankers have been brought to Childress, along with two TIFMAS strike teams in Amarillo.

Also, two large air tankers were also ordered into Abilene to preposition to be ready for response in the High Plains.

“For a day like tomorrow an SPWO day, we will not be able to get to the head of the fire because of the strong winds the intensity of the fire would be too strong to catch right away, so aircraft will be a huge importance for us being able to get at that head and being able to try and slow it down,” said Rodriguez.

Texas A&M Forest Service says these tankers will continue to stay there past tomorrow.

“These tankers are here for the foreseeable future until conditions start to lessen and our risk of wildfires begin to go back down,” said Scott Morris, regional WUI specialist, Texas A&M Forest Service.

Officials say SPWO days are not uncommon for the Panhandle and can be catastrophic as all the conditions right now could lead to a serious wildfire.

They say it is crucial for area residents to be cautious of any activities that may cause a spark and to stay alert to local conditions and have a “go” kit ready along with evacuation routes pre-planned.

Copyright 2021 KFDA. All rights reserved.