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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

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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

Texas wildfires: Weather brings some relief

Texas Forest Service says fires have spread across 1.4 million acres

The RockHouse Fire in Texas burning in the Davis Mountains. PHOTO BY FRANK CIANCOLA VIA INCIWEB.ORG. Click on the image to see more photos from the Texas wildfires.

An April 22 map from the Texas Forest Service shows the locations of the active wildfires. Click on the image for the latest up-to-date interactive version of the map.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A cold front sweeping through parts of Texas brought cooler temperatures and more humidity, helping firefighters battling the Pk Fire Complex near Possum Kingdom Lake.

According to the April 21 Texas Forest Service incident management report a stationary cold front across central Texaas will generate some scattered showers and thunderstorms, with generally more moist conditions across much of the state.

The exception is in the west and northwest, with drier air in place and forecast gusty southwest winds up to 30 mph, along with relative humidity readings in the single digits.

Altogether, the Texas wildfires have now burned across more than 1.4 million acres. Continue reading

Texas fires: 20 new blazes, extreme fire danger continues

 

 

 

 

 

Sept. 7 update:

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.

Sept. 6 Texas wilfire locations map
Click on the map for the latest interactive version.

Among the 10 new fires reported Sept. 5, the largest is the Riley Road Fire, at 3,000 acres. It has destroyed 20 homes, with at least 150 more facing an immediate threat as the fire moves south.

Since Jan. 1, fires in Texas have burned across 3.5 million acres and have destroyed more than 1,000 homes, according to Inciweb.

The weather forecast for the next few days is for more of the same, with warm temperatures and dry and windy skies.

Other new fires include:

TAMINA ROAD, Montgomery County. 150 acres, unknown containment. Two hundred homes have been evacuated in and near the Woodlands and an additional 400 are within a one-fourth of a mile of the fire.

UNION CHAPEL, Bastrop County. 750 acres, 10 percent contained. Twenty-five homes were destroyed on this fire just west of Bastrop. Aircraft responded immediately after the fire was reported, but were ineffective in the windy conditions.

MOONGLOW, Williamson County. 300 acres, no containment. This fire is burning in Leander where 150 homes were threatened. Thirteen homes are reported lost.

PETERS CHAPEL, Harrison County. 600 acres, unknown containment. The fire is burning actively in pine plantation. Numerous homes have been evacuated. There are no reports of losses.

#552, Upshur County. 200 acres, unknown containment. The fire is burning in timber. Three homes were lost and dozens remain threatened.

#854, Walker County. 200 acres, unknown containment. Thirty homes have been evacuated, five homes were destroyed.

#507, Anderson County. 1,200 acres, unknown containment.

#505 Rusk County. 400 acres, unknown containment.

#504, Anderson County. 800 acres, unknown containment.

Labor Day weekend update:

 

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.

Tropical Storm Lee isn’t helping the situation. Instead of bringing moisture to Texas, the storm has only generated high wrap-around winds, leading to red flag fire warnings across the eastern two-thirds of the state.

Hot and dry conditions are predicted to persist at least until early fall, unless relief is provided by tropical storms or hurricanes. On September 1, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center released its updated U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook through November. The drought is expected to continue or persist across the entire state. Currently, 81 percent of the state is in exceptional drought, the highest drought category.

Recent new fires reported by the Texas Forest Service:

NAYLOR, Grayson County. 500 acres, 75 percent contained. Nine structures were saved.

Uncontained fires from previous days (more than 100 acres in timber, 300 acres in lighter fuels):

RANCH, Palo Pinto County. 6,600 acres, 60 percent contained. The fire is burning on the south side of Possum Kingdom Lake near the town of Brad. A small amount of active fire remains in an island in the interior of the fire, but all other fire activity is minimal. Nine strike teams of Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System engines are assisting. Evacuation orders have been lifted. Thirty-nine homes and nine RVs have been reported destroyed; 199 saved.

PICKET RUN, Montague County. 1,100 acres, 90 percent contained. The fire is burning in tall grass 7 miles south of Bowie.

CEDAR TRUCK COMPLEX, Kimble County. 400 acres, 95 percent contained. Thirteen homes were saved on this fire burning just west of Fort McKavett. This was a combination of 34 different starts along a 24-mile stretch of highway.

HORNETS TANK, Briscoe County. 5,500 acres, 90 percent contained. The fire is burning in juniper and grass in rough terrain near Palo Duro Canyon.

3547 ROAD, Wise County. 400 acres, 90 percent contained. Approximately 60 homes were evacuated near this fast-moving fire. Five homes were lost.

JOHNSON (JACKSON) RANCH, Edwards County. 600 acres, 95 percent contained. Three homes were lost on this fire burning 27 miles northwest of Hunt.

RICK RANCH, Sutton County. 370 acres, 95 percent contained. The fire is burning 24 miles west of Junction.

JACK MOUNTAIN, Coryell County. 3,000 acres, 75 percent contained. The fire is burning 5 miles south of Gatesville on the Fort Hood military reservation.

BUNDY ROSS RANCH, Edwards County. 600 acres, 90 percent contained. The fire is burning in juniper, grass and brush 7 miles southeast of Telegraph.

By Summit Voice

Follow Summit Voice on Twitter for the most up-to-date news feed.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Wildlfires in Texas have now scorched about 770,000 acres since early April including five new large fires, according to figures compiled by the National Interagency Fire Center, which also reported that firefighters were able to contain five blazes Texas blazes on April 17, but the Texas Forest Service said there were also 20 new large wildfires reported.

Nationally, the wildfire tally now shows almost 1 million acres burned for the year to-date, compared to just a quarter-million acres for the same period in 2010. The worst year on record was 2006, when about 2.17 million acres had burned by this time of year. Click here to see all recent NASA satellite images of the fires. Continue reading

Near-record wildlfire numbers in March 2011

A NASA satellite image shows smoke plumes from fires burning west of Savannah, Georgia in late March.

17,000 fires have burned across 589,000 acres so far this year

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The number of wildfires this year to-date has doubled from last year, and while the number of new fires reported in March (7,316) was slightly below average, the acreage burned for the month — 385,043 acres — is much higher than normal, second only to 2006, when March fires burned across 1.43 million acres.

At the beginning of the month, there were 14 large wildfires burning across the country; six in Texas, four in Florida and one each in Kansas, Louisiana, Georgia and Virginia. By March 15, 23 large fires were reported and by the end of the month most activity shifted eastward, with three large fires in Louisiana, two in Georgia and one each in Oklahoma and New Mexico. Continue reading

Archaeologists find evidence of pre-Clovis settlement

New research in Texas shows humans settled North America earlier than previously thought.

New research may change long-held views on early North American inhabitants

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — New archaeological research in Texas suggests that humans lived in North America thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

For about 100 years, archaeologists have dated the earliest human artifacts to the Clovis people, about 13,000 years ago. The new finds push this date back by about 2,500 years, into the pre-Clovis era, according to a press release from Baylor University.

“This find really rewrites history, so to speak, and changes our collective thought on the early colonization of North, Central and South America,” said Dr. Lee Nordt, professor of geology at Baylor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who is an author on the study. “What sets this study a part is that we were able to show using geological methods that the buried artifacts dating to pre-Clovis times were in their original state. This demonstrates unequivocally that the peopling of the Americas occurred much earlier than previously thought.” Continue reading

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