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We spoke today with Nick Harrison, Texas Firewise Coordinator, with the Texas A&M Forest Service, and he shared an update on current fires in the Texas Panhandle.

 

The Double Diamond wildfire that broke out on Sunday, May 11, 2014, near Lake Meredith and the town of Fritch, remained at 85% contained at 2,583 acres. Resources from the Texas A&M Forest Service, the Fritch Fire Department, Hutchinson County EMC and Sheriff’s Office and the National Park Service, along with multiple area fire departments continued to work to finish containment lines, monitor, and mop-up hot spots on the fire.

 

TSF Double Diamond areal pic 2
Photo provided by Pilot for TFS

 

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Assessment work continues to determine home & outbuildings lost, damaged and survived.

 

Harrison stressed that, "it’s not if a wildfire will strike but when, as evidenced by this latest wildfire in the Texas Panhandle”. He noted that the drought continues to impact the wildland fuels in Texas, especially in the western half of the state and that despite recent rains in the eastern half of the state, the drought continues and without continued rains the summer heat will impact these fuels as well.

 

TFS Double Diamond Fire areal pic 1
Photo provided by Pilot for TFS

 

Harrison recommends that residents utilize Firewise practices to create defensible space to reduce the threat of wildfire to their homes and property.

For additional information on how to create defensible space around your home and in your community, please log on to www.texasfirewise.org.

 

Texas has 66 Firewise Communities, which include the Texas Panhandle communities of the City of Borger, in Hutchinson County, and the Village of Palisades, in Randall County. Harrison highlighted that both of these communities have taken a proactive approach to protecting their residents and communities, through becoming a NFPA recognized Firewise Community.

 

For updates on the fire, Harrison shared these valuable links from the Texas A&M Forest Service:

 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/txforestservice and

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/texasforestservice

Two helpful wildfire preparedness tips sheets were recently published by the U.S. Fire Administration.  The first one revisits some Firewise Principles and the second is a closer look at personal/family evacuation planning.  In addition to these very important actions, one also need to begin thinking about their home in relation to others, because what one homeowner does directly impacts a neighboring homeowner in the event of a wildfire.  One way to engage the community as a whole is through the National Firewise Communities/USA® recognition program.

Hiz

Image 1: Graphical representation of overlapping Home Ignition Zones.

SacMetroReg
It's not too late for folks to register for this weekend's Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone workshop in Fair Oaks, California. Click on the image to sign up for this free training to learn how to prepare homes to resist wildfire hazards!

When you visit the National Building Museum's Designing for Disaster exhibit in Washington, D.C., you'll not only be able to review case studies, participate in interactive modules and see artifacts from a handful of natural disasters, you'll also get the chance to watch a number of short but powerful videos featuring interviews with industry leaders. Jack D. Cohen, a Research Physical Scientist at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, U.S. Forest Service, is highlighted in one such video as part of the "fire" gallery.

 

Jack's post-fire field examinations and laboratory-based research on fire dynamics has led to the concept of the home ignition zone, a phrase he coined and one we use often when talking about Firewise and its principles. Cohen also co-developed the U.S. National Fire Danger Rating System and contributed to the U.S. fire behavior prediction systems.

You can learn more about the Designing for Disaster exhibit by visiting their website. 

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