Gov. Rick Perry Orders Response to Texas Wildfires
Responding to wildfires breaking out across the state, Gov. Rick Perry today ordered the deployment of state firefighting assets and issued a statewide disaster declaration. State and local fire-fighters on Monday battled 73 wildfires across the state, mostly in central, north-central and northeast Texas. The wildfire threat level is expected to remain high for the next 30 days.
"To better ensure our ability to immediately respond to these fast-moving fires, I have ordered the deployment of Texas Army National Guard assets and requested assistance from the U.S. Forest Service," Perry said. "We are working hard from both the ground and the air to protect Texans and their homes and property."
Specifically, the Governor has:
* Deployed four Texas Army National Guard helicopters,
* Requested and received two single engine air tankers from the U.S. Forest Service, and
* Requested and received two helicopters from the U.S. Forest Service.
The helicopters operate by "dipping" into lakes and other surface water and carrying "buckets" of water of water to suppress the fire from above; air tankers are used in areas where there is no available surface water.
The governor's disaster declaration activates the state emergency management plan and authorizes the deployment of any forces, equipment or supplies required for the response. The Governor's Division of Emergency Management is coordinating the state effort and the Texas Forest Service serves as the lead agency for the response. The Texas Department of Transportation has provided equipment and assistance and the Department of Public Safety is providing security at wildfire sites.
A persistent drought has blanketed the state since early summer. In combination with high winds and unseasonably warm temperatures, the weather pattern has created the most severe wildfire threat in five years. Thus far in December 114 fires in 39 counties have burned approximately 10,000 acres. Burn banswhich are prohibitions against all outdoor burning-are in effect in 156 counties.