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

U.S. Wildfire season on near-record pace

An aerial photo shows the Pagami Fire in Minnesota burning among lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe area. PHOTO COURTESY SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST. Click on the image to see more from the Pagami Creek Fire.

Large fires burning in Minnesota, Idaho, Montana and Texas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Several large new fires burning California, Idaho and Minnesota have pushed the total acreage during this year’s wildfire season to 7.7 million acres nationwide, about 1.5 million acres above the 10-year average and close to the record season of 2006, when 8.8 million acres had burned by this time of year.

By comparison, last year’s total at this point in the fire season was 2.7 million acres; in 2009, it was 5.5 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Currently, large fires are burning in eight states: California (3), Idaho (11), Minnesota (1), Montana (8), Oklahoma (3), Oregon (6), Texas (11) and Washington (2). Visit Inciweb for updates on all fires burning currently.

The biggest single fire in the country is burning on the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, where the Pagami Creek Fire has burned across a footprint of about 94,000 acres since it started about a month ago. The fire was started by lightning in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, about 14 miles east of Ely. It’s about 11 percent contained with 565 firefighters on scene.

Parts of the Boundary Waters area remains closed and officials are focusing on protecting structures and developing evacuation procedures on the fire’s southeastern boundary.

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

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

Weather helps slow Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico

A burnout operation at the Las Conchas Fire in Santa Clara Canyon. PHOTO BY BURT STALTER VIA FLICKR.

Nationally, 5 million acres have burned to date, more than twice the 10-year average

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Aided by overcast skies and more moisture in the air, firefighters made some progress in controlling the 113,000-acre Las Conchas Fire, which has burning in northern New Mexico for a week. The fire started June 26 and the cause is still under investigation.

According to an Inciweb update issued late on July 2, the fire made no major movement, but still grew by another 10,000 acres. Crews were able to get a handline around the northeast corner of the fire and focused efforts on protecting communities, watersheds, along with infrastructure and other important features, including cultural and historic resources. Burnout operations were conducted to protect cultural and historic resources near the Santa Clara Pueblo. Continue reading

U.S. Wildfires have scorched 2.5 million acres this year

The Horseshoe Two Fire in Arizona. PHOTO BY MICHELLE FIDLER.

The average for this time of year is 857,000 acres; extreme fire conditions continue across Texas, Southwest

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Fire officials say they’ve achieved 95 percent containment of the 17,500-acre Tunner Fire that burned on the border of Colorado and Kansas in the Cimarron National Grasslands, about four miles north of Elkhart, Kansas.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The fire burned in short grass and is still creeping and smoldering within the perimeter but crews will demobilize some resources and start rehabilitation in the next few days.

Across the country, the National Interagency Fire Center is reporting seven new large fires in the past 24 hours. Major fires are burning in Texas (9), New Mexico (7), Arizona (5), Florida (3), and one each in Georgia, California, Kansas and North Carolina.

This year to-date more than 25,000 fires have burned across 2.55 million acres, the most in the past 10 years and four times the average. The only year that came close was 2006, with 2.33 million acres burned through the first week of May. By comparison, last year the total was 335,000 acres. The 10-year average is 857,000 acres. 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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