BURNET COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Fire danger continues in the Texas Hill Country and in areas like Mason County, where the weather is dramatically different from Travis County.
Very low humidity levels and high winds have caused many counties in the Texas Hill Country to issue burn ban notices.
In Marble Falls, several agencies coming from as far as Texarkana are posted up and ready to go in case a wildland fire were to break.
“We prepare for Southern Plains outbreaks every year,” said Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator Walter Flocke with the Texas A&M Forest Service. “Some years the rain doesn’t come, and this year we’re in a La Niña weather pattern.”
According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, historically, Southern Plains wildfire outbreak events happen more often during La Niña years, because there are drier and warmer-than-normal conditions during the Texas spring and winter.
When dry, dormant grass, low humidity levels and high winds surface, the Texas A&M Forest Service activates TIFMAS or the Texas Interstate Mutual Aid System.
“We have two dozer units here from the Smithville task force,” said Flocke.
Flocke pointed to the units on scene at the Marble Falls staging area, but there is also a staging area in Fredericksburg and Smithville, where air tankers and helicopters are on scene.
“This is some of the strongest fire potential we’ve seen statewide in the last three years now.”
In Burnet County, resources are split into a north and south task force. Fire crews there are also in contact with Blanco and Llano Counties, which border Burnet County.
“I explained it to my firefighters this morning when we had our safety briefing. Even the slightest error in judgement could be costly to the firefighters,” said Russell Sander, the Marble Falls fire chief.
In Horseshoe Bay, resources are also on standby, but the chief there said fighting fire comes down to everyone being weather aware.
“I’d just like to promote the Firewise program for communities to consider,” said Brent Batla, the Horseshoe Bay fire chief. “We’ve seen great success with that in Horseshoe Bay.”
The Firewise program is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association, which encourages communities to reduce their wildfire risk by creating defensible space and action plans in advance.