We talked about the tremendous amount of wildfires that firefighters were battling in Texas, back in April, in an article called “Wildfires Are Taking a Huge Toll on Texas.”  It is sad to know that wildfires are continuing throughout the United States, from Arizona to the eastern Atlantic coast, and north to Delaware.  So many states are suffering from extreme droughts, and excessive heat.  Northern states have already registered unusually high temperatures, with several persons already losing their lives from the heat.  This year’s weather is really hard to predict, so far. 

In Colorado, over 400 firefighters are battling the Bear and Purgatorie Fires, which scorched 13,000 acres near  the Colorado-New Mexico border on Thursday.  As of Thursday, June 9th, the Bear Fire has destroyed roughly 6,900 acres and is almost 40 per cent contained.  The Purgatorie Fire, which has destroyed 6,100 acres is 60 per cent contained, according to a report from the Denver Post. 

In Eastern Arizona, the state’s second largest wildfire is raging on.  Although it quieted down last night (June 9), small fires are igniting from burning embers, causing new concerns about the prospects of extinguishing the 13-day old Wallow Fire.  So far, 337,000 acres of land have been destroyed, and main electric lines that supply power as far as West Texas are threatened.  Thousands have been evacuated from their homes. 

Since fire season started on November 15, 2010, Texas Forest Service and area fire departments have responded to 11,695 fires, which have burned 2,876,303 acres.  Yesterday, Texas Forest Service responded to 24 new fires for 7,651 acres, including new large fires in Coke and Hardin counties.  The Hollow Rock Mountain in Shelby County was contained at 425 acres.  In the past seven days, the Texas Forest Service has responded to 138 fires for 30,263 acres.  I want to thank Dwight Dold, who is a local fire department chief, for this information.  He has also given us these resources that will be helpful to everyone: 

Prevention Messages:

  • Firewise (firewise.org) is a resource for residents to protect their home and property from wildfire.
  • Remove flammable materials from around your home.
  • Develop an evacuation plan for your family.  Resources are available on the Firewise website and at texasfirestorm.org.
  • Obey outdoor burning bans. Don’t burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy.  Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Texas.
  • Keep lawn mowers and agricultural equipment in proper working condition and avoid rocks and other materials that might cause a spark.
  • To report suspicious activities, call the Arson Hotline at (888) 501-3850.  If possible, safely obtain an accurate description of the person and/or vehicle (including the license number) before calling the hotline.
  • Humans cause more than 90 per cent of all wildfires.  Do not weld or cut without a spotter, a water source and a shovel. 

There are many things that persons who live in areas prone to wildfires can do to help protect their property, such as not having any shrubs or trees too close to the house, and replace roofs that catch fire easily with ones that don’t.  Pavement and brick walkways may help, as well. 

Thanks to Mr. Dold, who is very involved in fighting fires throughout Texas.  I know he and all volunteer and professional firefighters will appreciate everyone who does their best to prevent fires and observe burning bans.  Once a fire starts, it takes a long time to put it out, and in the meantime, there is a terrible price to pay, with the loss of property, livestock, wildlife, and the health and well-being of those who serve.

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