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Texas A&M Forest Service deploys more personnel west as resources become scarce

Posted at 8:56 AM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 09:56:41-04

Some western states are combating extreme wildfires as they're spreading across our nation and resources are running thin. Texas A&M Forest Service has deployed more people than ever before to help.

Texas A&M Forest Service has firefighters with boots on the ground helping to contain these fires. And that's not all, they've also deployed equipment like fire engines and bulldozers. But it doesn't stop there, administrative workers are also helping in states where they're needed.

Heather Gonzales has been deployed to the Robertson draw fire. She is helping spread critical information to the community on the status of the wildfire.

She has been there for a little over a week now representing Texas A&M Forest Service in Montana. She will complete at least 14 to 21 days providing her expertise.

"I left to come up to Montana on Tuesday, July 13. The drive took about two and a half days. I arrived here on the 15 and I started my first day on July 16," said Heather Gonzales, the public information officer for the Robertson Draw Fire deployed by Texas A&M Forest Service.

According to InciWeb, the fire is 85% contained, but the area was just placed under a heat advisory and red flag.

"Definitely a new experience that I appreciate it's one of the things that I love about my career is being able to travel and assist in all different parts of the country," added Gonzales.

The current weather conditions remaining hot and dry in the western areas and increasing fire dangers have caused the national multi-agency coordinating group to raise the national preparedness level to 5.

"It is the maximum level, and this is pretty early for us to reach it this time of year. Usually, it's not until late August when we start to see PO 5 initiated," said Wes MooreHead, the Texas A&M Forest Service Assistant Director.

Right now Texas is experiencing unusually cooler and moist temperatures for this time of year. This has decreased the potential for wildfires allowing the Texas A&M Forest Service to deploy a total of 70 personnel.

"It's an indicator that resources are scarce and so they're really needing firefighting resources," said Moorehead."So we've taken the opportunity to really push out a larger number than we've ever had."

Among the 70 deployed there is a 20 person hand crew in northern California on a suppression module mission. Other states suffering from wildfires that are included in the deployment are Arizona and Idaho.