High Winds Fuel Fires on South Plains - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock


High Winds Fuel Fires on South Plains

The fire first started 1:30 Monday morning and was put out 21 hours later. This is just one of several fires we have seen flare up in the past few days. Firefighters say they are preparing for more long hours with more high winds on the way. And residents in the area say they are suffering.

"It's been bad for us because my husband is on oxygen part of the time, not all the time, and it has been hard for him to breathe at times," said county resident Pam Henderson. She says when it is windy in the country, you just learn to deal with it. But for at least four days, they, along with other residents, have been breathing smoke from smoldering cotton burrs.

They seem to be doing a good job getting it out fast each time it flares up," she said.

Lubbock Emergency Management Says 'We're Ready' in Case of Local Wildfire
The death toll is now at 11, the number of acres burned is now at 750,000 and as on Tuesday night parts of the Panhandle are still burning. Lubbock officials spoke with NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel and they tell us they are ready if the fires come this way.

The owner of the land, who didn't want to talk on camera, says he and his crews spent the whole day covering the burrs with dirt. It was the only way to finally put out the fire. The fire started twice in less than 24 hours.

The high winds create static electricity which is enough to catch cotton burrs on fire and get out of control. "Cotton burs are tremendously hard to put out," said Woodrow Firefighter Jim Blume. Blume says the high winds make conditions even more dangerous. And with more wind in the forecast, Lubbock Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Olson is sending out this warning. "With the winds the way that they are, we are even more vulnerable for fires to travel rapidly through, structures fires or grass fires, we've got to be extra careful," said Olson.

From January 1,2005 to May 13, 2005, the Woodrow Fire Department responded to 64 fires. This year already to date they have responded to 70 fires with 80 percent of those fires due to the high winds.

Wildfire Prevention Tips
Here are some helpful tips to follow when visiting areas where wildland fires can ignite.
USDA Forest Service Wildfire Map
Track active wildfires and the efforts to combat them with the USDA Forest Service Wildfire Map.

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