Texas A&M Forest Service dispatches crews/equipment to fight Pan - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Texas A&M Forest Service dispatches crews/equipment to fight Panhandle fires

Source: KFDA Source: KFDA
Source: Curtis Spivey Source: Curtis Spivey
Source: TX A&M Forest Service Source: TX A&M Forest Service

The Texas A&M Forest Service predicts extreme fire dangers will continue in the Panhandle region through Thursday and Friday.

"We've been prepositioned in the Panhandle as an extra resource for the past several weeks now," said Texas A&M Forest Service spokesman Phillip Truitt.

The Texas A&M Forest Service base in Wolfforth was close enough to jump into action when Panhandle fires began to get out of control earlier this week.

"They're able to get there quickly and help the locals have a faster response time," Truitt said.

But they soon discovered they would need a much larger response.

"We have staff from all over the state there," Truitt said. "We have a lot of resources from Eastern Texas, from Lufkin, from Longview. They've driven all the way up to the Panhandle and they're prepositioned there, and they're working on fires up there."

They even brought in several of their single engine air tankers (SEAT).

"We put up some in Abilene and we put some at the airport in Amarillo," Truitt said, "and those are single engine aircrafts that can drop 800 gallons of fire retardant on a fire."

On Monday alone, Truitt said they completed about 13 drops of this fire retardant with these aircraft that can fly for about seven-and-a-half hours a day.

"I think especially with the fire around Tulia last week, the SEATs were credited with helping save a subdivision with their retardant drops," Truitt said.

The SEATs are not the only equipment their service provides on the scene of a wildfire.

"We use a lot of bulldozers and maintainers," Truitt said. "We also have fire engines, different sizes of those that are capable of going off road…and we bring in the ability to manage and coordinate incidents."

That support brings encouragement and relief to local first responders.

"It's one big team out there," Truitt said. "We work together and help each other out, and if it wasn't for that teamwork, these fires would be very worse."

Residents can help further first responder's efforts, Truitt said, by following burn bans and preparing a space around their homes for firefighters.

"As fast as you can run, you cannot outrun that wildfire," Truitt said. "The big thing is that if you're not trained or equipped and not working with that incident, to stay away from a wildfire. You know, give that space, evacuate early if you need to or you feel the need to."

To check resources the Texas A&M Forest Service provides about high fire danger zones and even current fires, visit http://tfsweb.tamu.edu/currentsituation/.

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