A team with Texas A&M Forest Service is stationed at Faught Volunteer Fire Department’s station 1 in preparation of the extreme wildfire conditions Northeast Texas’ region is facing.
Sean Dugan, Texas A&M Forest Service’s Public Informations Officer, said Texas’ Northeast region is facing elevated to extreme wildfire conditions.
“This is probably our most significant fire year since 2011, and it’s also our most significant drought year since 2011,” Dugan said. “Even with the little bit of rain, the whole region is still under a burn ban. Remember that rain falls, wind blows, sun shines, and grass dries.”
With 224 counties of Texas’ 254 counties under burn bans, Dugan said it is important to obey local burn bans and other outdoor burning restrictions even after it rains.
“That rain can potentially slow things down, but we’re still in extreme drought with extreme wildfire conditions,” he said. “The entire Northeast Texas region is all under a burn ban.”
Texas A&M Forest Service has a TAMFS Dozer crew and a UTV staged at Faught Fire Station 1. Dugan said a Type 1 helicopter is stationed in Mt Pleasant to assist with any potential wildfires.
Dugan said while stationed at a local volunteer fire department, the forest service is able to respond with the departments.
“Conditions like we have now, where it’s incredibly dry, fires can move pretty quick, and it helps having our dozers and our engines there because we can get where some VFDs can’t,” Dugan said. “For example, when the fires get into the woods and snake around trees, the VFDs’ brush trucks have a tough time dragging hoses and getting back there. The dozers are the ‘big guns’ and can punch through and cut fire breaks through the woods.”
Texas A&M’s Forest Service having multiple, additional resources throughout Northeast Texas’ region, including aviation resources, “alludes to the fact that we’re in elevated to extreme wildfire conditions throughout the region.”
Even though the organization has a main office in New Boston and a semi-secondary office in Clarksville, Dugan said it can take quite some time to respond to Lamar County if needed.
“For Northeast Texas – I don’t know if it’s luck, conditions, or because the media has really done a great job and the VFDs have done a great job – we have lucked out in not having really significant sized fires in Northeast Texas,” Dugan said. “There’s been several-hundred acre fires and a couple-thousand acre fires in SE Texas. Conditions in NE Texas were worse in those handful of days, and we managed to escape these really big fires, and I think it’s a testament to the people in the region.”
Faught Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Rick Browning said it seems Lamar County residents are being more cautious with the current burn ban.
“It seems people in Lamar County have been paying attention to the burn ban,” Browning said. “In the past, people have not taken it as serious as they should have. Some have burned their trash in the past, which lead to the loss of property.”
Photo: Faught VFD Junior member poses with three members of Texas A&M Forest Service who are staged at Faught VFD’s Station 1 due to high wildfire risks in Northeast Texas’ region.