Thursday, June 5, 2008
June 5, 2008--20,000 acre wildfire threatens West Texas communities
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Heavy air tankers, helicopters and ground crews from Texas and New Mexico are attempting to contain the 20,000-acre wildfire burning through Presidio and Jeff Davis Counties, Texas.
According to Texas Forest Service officials, the path of the wildfire is moving northeast at approximately two to three miles-per-hour (mph) and threatens more than 60 homes. Also in the path of the wildfire are the Bloys Camp historic religious site, the Crow's Nest tourist camp, the Bloys Symbolic Oak historic tree of Texas and numerous wind turbines.
High winds, high temperatures and low relative humidity contribute to the enormity and speed of this wildfire and others burning today throughout West Texas.
Today and tomorrow, look for SSW winds in the 30-40mph range and relative humidity (RH) values dropping into the single digits in the Panhandle south of I-40 and in the northern part of the Southern Plains. SSW winds will be 25-35mph with single digit relative humidity in the Trans-Pecos, southern part of Southern Plains, and Panhandle north of I-40.
Current drying weather conditions cause moisture in vegetation and ground cover to decrease. Grasses and twigs less than ¼" in diameter are classified as one-hour fuels. The one hour refers to the amount of time it takes for the fuel to respond to atmospheric moisture. With current one to two percent moisture levels in these one-hour fuels in West Texas, officials from Texas Forest Service predict that wildfire spread would be in the two to five mph range.
"The fuels – grasses, etc. – are critically dry in part of the lower Permian Basin and Trans Pecos areas and not much better in parts of the Panhandle," said Brad Smith, fire behavior analyst with Texas Forest Service. "The conditions are such that we could see very active fire behavior today and tomorrow over a large portion of the western part of the state."
For more information, go to http://tfsnews.tamu.edu and click on Fire Danger/Advisories.
For more information on the Bloys Symbolic Oak, go to http://famoustreesoftexas.tamu.edu.