From fires to floods, the Texas A&M Forest Service is very busy
This wildfire season is not over yet and will be one of the worst ever
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The recent rains around Texas have not provided much of a break for the firefighters of Texas A&M Forest Service.
The fire danger might be lessened by the weather, but it just means the same people who respond to fires, now could be battling floodwaters in addition to flames.
“These people do it all,” Chancellor John Sharp said. “The responders of the Texas A&M Forest Service work harder than anyone to protect Texans and their properties. Whether they are battling blazes or fighting floods, these folks work relentlessly for all of us, and they deserve our total gratitude.”
Personnel with Texas A&M Forest Service, a state agency of The Texas A&M University System, have been combatting wildfires across the state since January. Fire environment conditions this year have been among the worst in Texas history. Since Jan. 1, local emergency responders and state agencies have responded to 8,600 wildfires for 643,840 acres.
Texas A&M Forest Service has mobilized all available agency firefighting personnel since the first of the year. They’ve also brought in 4,446 out-of-state personnel and 1,693 Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) firefighters. Additionally, Texas A&M Forest Service has mobilized 114 firefighting aircraft for 6,530 flight hours and has dropped 11.4 million gallons of water and retardant on wildfires.
Texas A&M Forest Service has responded to 1,682 wildfires on 542,393 acres this year. On average, the agency responds to 1,194 wildland fire incidents that burn 462,466 acres each year. So, with four months left in the year, Texas has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of fires, compared to the annual average.
“Amid the onerous challenges encountered during this fire season, there’s been a multitude of instances of professionalism, adaptability, resilience and teamwork shown by a diverse group of selfless servants at the state, local, interstate and federal levels,” said Interim Director for Texas A&M Forest Service Al Davis. “Our front-line firefighters, supported by their colleagues at various incident command system positions, have worked tirelessly to save lives, homes, other structures and the environment.”
Pervasive drought conditions, a strong ridge of high pressure positioned over the state that resulted in persistent temperatures over 100 degrees and an abundance of dry vegetation all contributed to the near-record number of fires.
Texas A&M Forest Service officials have warned Texans that the recent rain potentially may offer only a short-lived break from fire activity. If wildfires spark back up as the Texas sun returns and the land dries out, then Texas A&M Forest Service responders will shift their focus back to fires.
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $7.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 152,000 students and makes more than 24 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.
Contact: Laylan Copelin
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