Low humiditys have fire crews on high alert. The danger of wild fire is in the extreme category for parts of Texoma on Tuesday.
The threat is underscored by fire that broke out around Noon Monday in Northern Clay County. Flames ripped across a field on FM 1740 near the community of Thornberry. Crews from several departments raced to put the flames out.
Helping them in the effort was a team from the Texas Forest Service "Bulldozer Brigade". The team is commanded by Cody Rattan, Regional Fire Coordinator. "They're staged in Henrietta as a just-in-case kind of resource," said Rattan. The 'dozers are on loan from the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho.
The machines play a critical role in cutting a fire off from potential fuel. "They go around and remove fuel out from in front of the fire so they take all the fuel the grass and brush to bare mineral soil so the fire can't burn any more," explained Rattan.
It is not just bulldozers at Rattan's command. There are several firefighting aircraft at his disposal as well. "We've got all of the aircraft Abilene and Eastland and they can respond up here within an hour and a half or so," he said. The helicopters and planes played a critical role in stopping the Jack County Fire Storm.
Many fires, such as the Jack County Fire Storm, are started by power lines sparking. "Over time the poles get weakened and then in high winds sometimes the wires can slap together and spark and start a fire," said Rattan. Humidity values play a key role in a fire's ability to get started. "The potential for one to start goes down as the humidity goes up and with the lower humidity; the potential for each one of those sparks starting a fire goes up," Rattan said.
Monday's fire took some by surprise. The humidity values were in the 40% range. For Tuesday, Rattan is looking ahead and is well-prepared. Humidity values could drop into the teens in western parts of Texoma. "Its looking like its going to be a fairly critical day … High wind and low relative humidity it could definitely be a day of concern," said Rattan.