BRAZOS VALLEY, Texas — We’re seeing more Texas wildfires, and as they grow larger, they are getting even harder to contain with dry conditions.
Texas A&M Forest Service shares how this is an ongoing battle as aviation resources are being used to aid our firefighters.
“We have had aircraft in the state of Texas for 229 days,” said Erin O’Connor, public information officer, with the Texas A&M Forest Service. “That aviation footprint can expand, or contract based on need.”
Adam Turner with Texas A&M Forest Service says the aviation resources are in high demand.
“Currently, this year, we have gone to 6,809 wildfires burning over 596,000 acres,” said Adam Turner, public information officer, Texas A&M Forest Service.
Turner says before the aircraft is used, they have a large number of firefighters ready to respond as well.
“All of our 1,800 very important local volunteer and paid fire departments who are the initial attack responders for the state of Texas,” said Turner.
O’Connor says this is the most wildfires Texas has seen in over a decade.
“The year 2022 is certainly above normal as far as wildfires responded to and acres burned,” said O’Connor. “However, this is the most significant fire season we’ve had since 2011.”
There are currently a variety of 45 aircraft in Texas, helping contain daily wildfires.
“We fly the aircraft daily at this point,” said O’Connor. “Whenever there is a fire especially if it is threatening any homes or critical infrastructure, we will utilize the airplanes.”
Turner says they use multiple aircraft to combat the daily wildfires.
“Both the fire bosses and scoopers will scoop water off of lakes,” said Turner. “There are multiple lead planes and aircraft and then there are 12 helicopters based around the state, as well as two black hawks based in Austin.”
While the aircraft is effective on fires, Turner says it also helps firefighters.
“Many of these aircraft will play different roles depending on their uses, depending on their needs and can fill different niches and act as different tools in the toolbox than firefighters on ground,” said Turner.
O’Connor says using aircraft has been helpful for cooling fires quickly.
“Right now, our fires are burning very hot, very intensely,” said O’Connor. “The aircraft are very beneficial in cooling the fire so our firefighters can put in that containment line, contain it, keep it small.”
With over 40 aircraft in the state of Texas, they can deliver thousands of gallons of retardants on fires.
“The largest plan we’ve had in state the last week or so, can deliver up to 9400 gallons retardant, and then our smallest plane can carry about 800 gallons,” said O’Connor.
According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, there are currently no active wildfires in the Brazos Valley, however, aviation crews are prepared to immediately respond and contain wildfires.