Morning Wildfire Update – May 4, 2011 (10:45 a.m.)

Current Situation:
Critical fire weather conditions are expected today across the Panhandle and into the Permian Basin. Elevated fire weather conditions are expected across the rest of West Texas, as well as parts of South and Northwest Texas.

Fire numbers:
Since fire season started on Nov. 15, 2010, Texas Forest Service and area fire departments have responded to 9,179 fires that have charred 2,285,620 acres.

Recent Response:

· Texas Forest Service has responded to no new large fires in recent days.
· We’re currently working on 3 major fires that span 498,494 acres.
· 210 of the 254 Texas counties are reporting burn bans.

Uncontained major fires from previous days:

ROCKHOUSE, Presidio and Jeff Davis Counties. 314,444 acres, 95 percent contained. The fire is being managed by the Southern Area Type I Incident Management Team.

DEATON COLE, Val Verde County. 175,000 acres, 75 percent contained. The fire is in rugged terrain 30 miles southwest of Ozona, burning in tall grass and brush. Numerous ranch houses are threatened. Three strike teams of TIFMAS engines are assisting. Commercial airtankers and MAFFs tankers worked the fire most of the day yesterday and made good progress on the fire.

OASIS, Kimble County. 9,050 acres, 75 percent contained. Numerous engines, dozers, and helicopters continue to work the fire that is burning four miles south of Junction. TIFMAS strike teams of engines is on scene to do structure protection.

Weather Outlook

West Zone: Critical fire weather conditions are expected today across the Texas panhandle southward into the Permian Basin with relative humidity values falling below 10%. A surface low pressure system over southern Colorado will create strong southwest winds of 20-30 mph with gusts to 40 mph across the northern panhandle. Further south, winds in the Trans Pecos region will be out of the south-southeast around 20 mph with gusts to around 30 mph. Elevated fire weather conditions are expected across the rest of West Branch and much of the Northwest and South Branches. Relative humidity values across the elevated area will be between 10-20% with southeast winds of 15-20 mph with gusts to near 30 mph across West and Northwest Branches and 15-20 mph with gusts to 25 mph across northern South Branch. Elsewhere, relative humidity values will be between 20-30% except for the northern half of North Branch and along the coast where minimum afternoon relative humidity values will remain above 30%. Winds will be around 15 mph sustained with gusts 20- 25 mph across interior areas and near 30 mph at the coast. High temperatures will be in the upper 70s to low 80s.

East Zone: High pressure will be centered just to the east of the Branch today, leading to south-southeast winds of 10-15 mph with gusts to 20 mph, except along the immediate coastline where winds will be 15-20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Relative humidity values will range from the upper 20s across Walker and Montgomery counties up to around.

Prevention messages:

· Obey outdoor burning bans. Don’t burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Texas.

· Keep lawn mowers and agricultural equipment in proper working condition and avoid rocks and other materials which might cause a spark.

· To report suspicious activities, call the Arson Hotline at (888) 501-3850. If possible, safely obtain an accurate description of the person and/or vehicle (including the license number) before calling the hotline.

· Humans cause more than 90 percent of all wildfires. Do not weld or cut without a spotter, a water source and a shovel.

Read more about wildfires in the Southwest here.

Source: Texas Forest Service