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Texas timber industry takes a $97 million hit from wildfires

An engine at the Nolan County Complex sprays water on mesquite pile earlier this summer. PHOTO COURTESY STEVE PAES. Click on the image to see more photos from the Texas wildfires at the Inciweb Gallery.

175 million cubic feet of timber up in smoke

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with causing several deaths and burning thousands of homes, the latest round of wildfires in east Texas has destroyed almost $100 million worth of timber, resulting in economic costs far beyond the immediate cost of fighting fires and the value of the destroyed homes, the Texas Forest Service reported this week.

“Along with the heavy toll on people and property, these fires have significantly damaged the forestland — and the forest sector as a whole — in East Texas,” said Chris Edgar, a forest resource analyst with Texas Forest Service. “It’s a tremendous loss for the East Texas timber industry.”

In 2007, forest industries funneled $427 million into the economy in Cass and Marion counties while employing 1,330 people with a payroll of $72 million. More information on the Texas wildfires is online at Inciweb. Continue reading

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Texas wildfires: Almost 2,000 homes burned since Labor Day

Numerous wildfires continue to burn across central and eastern Texas. Click on the image to visit the inter-active version.

Weather may bring some relief to parts of the drought-stricken state

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Texas Forest Service officials said Tuesday that, by their latest count, almost 2,000 homes have been destroyed by wildfires since Labor Day weekend in central and east Texas. In the past week, the agency has responded to a total of 127 fires burning on about 9,000 acres.

Since the holiday weekend, aircraft have flown for more than 1,800 hours and dropped more than 5.5 million gallons of water and retardant. Six heavy airtankers, three water scoopers, 15 single-engine airtankers, four C-130 MAFFS airtankers, 13 helicopters and 17 air attack aircraft and lead planes are being utilized. Eleven Texas Army National Guard Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters from San Antonio, Austin and Grand Prairie have been crucial in the fight as well. Continue reading

Bastrop Fire in Texas destroyed 1,386 homes

Wildfires in Texas have burned across 3.6 million acres, accounting for 49 percent of all the wildfires in the U.S. this season. Click on the image to visit the most up-to-date version of the map.

Firefighters in Texas still facing dangerous fire conditions statewide

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Texas officials completed a comprehensive assessment of the Bastrop Fire complex and said Thursday that a total of 1,386 homes were destroyed by the fire that raged through the area during Labor Day weekend.

The fire has burned across a footprint of about 34,000 acres and was about 30 percent contained, according to the Sept. 8 update from the Texas Forest Service. Most of the fire’s forward motion has stopped, but there are still intense areas of fire within the perimeter. Continue reading

Bastrop Fire in Texas now 30 percent contained

Texas fires claimed more than 1,000 homes in past three days

Bastrop Fire map, Texas wildfires

The Bastrop fire complex near Austin, Texas is now 30 percent contained.

SUMMIT COUNTY — The 33,000-acre Bastrop Fire, one of the most destructive of the recent Texas wildfires, is now 30 percent contained, according to the Texas Forest Service, but the fire is still threatening a powerplant, as well as historic cabins in Bastrop State Park.

The western flank of the fire is still a threat to eastern edge of Bastrop, where 5,000 residents have been evacuated. The Bastrop Fire burned 785 homes during Labor Day weekend, according to the Sept. 7 update from the Texas Forest Service. The agency also said that 238 homes were burned by other fires in the past three days. Continue reading

Summit County firefighters sent to Oklahoma wildfires

Wildfires in Texas have burned across more than 3.5 million acres. PHOTO COURTESY INCIWEB. Click on the image to link to a gallery of Texas wildfire photos.

Small crews will use special backcountry engines designed to fight backcountry fires 

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Local firefighters will help crews in Oklahoma try to contain wildfires burning out of control in the drought-stricken south-central U.S.

The Lake Dillon and Red, White & Blue Fire districts each have sent three-member wildfire crews to the Ferguson Fire in Oklahoma, one of several large fires burning in the Southwest. Continue reading

Texas Labor Day fires destroy at least 700 homes; special team deployed to search burned rubble around Bastrop

Volunteer firefighters on the Baker Fire in Texas. PHOTO BY ROBIN P. BIBLE VIA INCIWEB.

Dangerous fire conditions persist across much of the state

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A surge of new wind-driven wildfires in Texas may have destroyed up to 700 homes in just two days during the Labor Day weekend, the Texas Forest Service said in its daily update.

There is still conflicting information about deaths resulting from the Bastrop Fire, with two reported fatalities and two additional deaths possible. A special 100-member search team has been deployed to search burned homes in the Bastrop area.

Strong winds on the west side of Tropical Storm Lee re-ignited earlier fires and quickly fanned new blazes into nearly uncontrollable infernos, including a monster fire in Bastrop County, near Austin, that’s grown to 30,000 acres. Firefighters still haven’t been able to contain the Bastrop Fire despite repeated attacks by air tankers. Numerous neighborhoods have been evacuated as firefighters focus on protecting homes in the area.

On Monday (Sept. 5) the Texas Forest Service responded to 22 new fires burning across 7,544 acres, including 10 new large fires. In the past week, the agency has responded to 181 fires burning on 118,413 acres, according to the daily Inciweb summary of the Texas wildfires. Continue reading

Texas wildfires: 2 dead, 300 homes lost near Bastrop

Fire officials reported 63 new fires in Texas Sept. 4. Click on the image for the latest interactive version of the map.

High winds continue to drive flames across east Texas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Texas Forest Service reported 63 new fires Sept. 4 including a monster 17,000 acre blaze that destroyed 300 homes in Bastrop County, where another 1,000 homes are threatened. Authorities said a fire in Gregg County, in northeast Texas, killed two people.

According to the Inciweb page on the Bastrop County fire complex, the fire remains uncontained and numerous neighborhoods have been evacuated.

Sunday’s wildfires have burned across 33,000 acres. Strong winds on the west side of Tropical Storm Lee caused the fires to spread rapidly in fuels left bone-dry by months of extreme drought. The forecast weather in the area includes highs in the upper 90s, winds of near 30 mph and a relative humidity of 18 percent.

A helicopter scoops water to fight the Bastrop fire complex in Texas. PHOTO COURTESY TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE. Click on the image to see more photos on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Facebook page.

Continue reading

High winds drive new Texas firestorms

Labor Day weekend brings more wildfire woes to the state

The Ranger Hill Fire, one of dozens of wildfires burning Texas. PHOTO CREDIT: ANTHONY BEAVER.

Current Texas wildfires. Click on the image to go to the live map at the Texas Forest Service website.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — High winds and low humidity across much of Texas have worsened the fire situation in the state, with residents and officials reporting numerous new fires during the holiday weekend, including a firestorm in Bastrop County that’s reportedly 10 miles wide and moving at 40 to 50 mph.

The Bastrop grass fire is reportedly threatening up to 1,000 homes in the area and had burned across 14,000 acres by late Saturday.

Texas firefighters in the state have responded to 141 fires in the past seven days. The Texas Forest Service reported 21 new fires burning across more than 1,000 acres on September 3, with another five new fires reported by 12 p.m. Sept. 4.

High winds could hamper firefighting activities in some areas, limiting the use of aircraft. The winds could also stir up older fires and re-ignite smoldering embers. Updated information online at Inciweb. Follow #txfire on Twitter for real-time updates from multiple sources. More info at the Texas Interagency Coordination Center and at Inciweb Continue reading

New wildfires flaring up in Texas as drought worsens

Texas Forest Service responds to 224 new fires in the past week

Texas Waco fire Texas fires 2011

Firefighters outlined by the flames at the Waco Fire in Texas. PHOTO COURTESY MARY K. HICKS.

Texas wildfires map.

Major wildfires are burning all around Texas as summer winds down. Click on the map to visit the live interactive version at the Texas Interagency Coordination Center.

By Summit Voice

Sept. 14 update:

Weather may bring some relief to parts of the drought-stricken state

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Texas Forest Service officials said Tuesday that, by their latest count, almost 2,000 homes have been destroyed by wildfires since Labor Day weekend in central and east Texas. In the past week, the agency has responded to a total of 127 fires burning on about 9,000 acres.

Since the holiday weekend, aircraft have flown for more than 1,800 hours and dropped more than 5.5 million gallons of water and retardant. Six heavy airtankers, three water scoopers, 15 single-engine airtankers, four C-130 MAFFS airtankers, 13 helicopters and 17 air attack aircraft and lead planes are being utilized. Eleven Texas Army National Guard Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters from San Antonio, Austin and Grand Prairie have been crucial in the fight as well.

The latest drought monitor shows 95 percent of the state in extreme drought, with 81 percent in exceptional drought . Seasonal outlooks continue to indicate drying throughout the fall, so the drought is expected to worsen.

Labor Day update:

SUMMIT COUNTY — With no relief in sight for drought-stricken Texas, new wildfires are erupting around the state, including the 6,600-acre Ranch Fire, in Palo Pinto County, which has destroyed at least 39 homes and several RVs. Another fire in Wise County is threatening 200 homes, and the Crab Prairie Fire has burned two homes. An overview of the fire is available at Inciweb.

About 80 percent of Texas is now classified as being under severe to extreme drought conditions and the long-term outlook calls for continued dryness, with above-normal temperatures at least through autumn. Wildfires have burned across 3.52 million acres in the state — the worst wildfire ever for the Lone Star state. Six of the state’s 10 largest wildfires burned in April 2011 and 20 of the largest 40 on record have burned during this year. More info online here. Continue reading

Wildfires: New Mexico and Florida the latest hotspots

Incident commander Rob Shackelford views flames at the Pains Bay Fire in North Carolina. PHOTO BY B STRAWSER, USFWS.

Structures threatened in Gila Hot Springs, N.M. and the Big Cypress Preserve in Florida

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While cooler weather and somewhat higher relative humidities have helped firefighters control a number of huge wildfire in Texas, the 3,600-acre Schwartz Fire, 20 miles east of Marathon, is growing quickly in dormant brush, hardwood slash and tall grass fuels.

The fire, which started May 7, is only 5 percent contained and threatens to move east quickly under gusty winds, highs around 100 degrees and 3 percent relative humidity. Click here to get all Texas wildfire updates from the Texas Forest Service.

Dangerous new blazes have been reported in South Carolina, Florida and New Mexico, where the 27,000 Miller Fire, near Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, has forced the evacuation of Gila Hot Springs. Continue reading

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