Aug 30, 2023 - News

North Texas faces high wildfire risk heading into Labor Day weekend

Illustration of binoculars. One lens is a sunny blue sky, the other shows a wildfire.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Fire officials are warning of an elevated, statewide danger of wildfires heading into the holiday weekend.

Why it matters: Extreme heat accompanied by dry conditions is becoming more common as temperatures rise, leading to more frequent and larger fires that put homes and people at risk.

Threat level: The National Weather Service of Fort Worth says there's an elevated risk of fire this week because of hot, breezy and dry weather in the forecast and "very dry vegetation" in most of North Texas.

  • The risk will continue through the long weekend, when triple-digit temperatures are forecast to return, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

By the numbers: 845 wildfires have been reported in Texas so far this year, burning more than 100,000 acres, including in Dallas, Parker and Johnson counties, per Texas A&M Forest Service data.

  • Around this time last year, when the state was in a more severe drought, nearly 1,700 wildfires statewide had burned almost 543,000 acres.

Between the lines: Sunday's rainfall in some parts of North Texas didn't last long enough to reduce the wildfire risk significantly.

  • Most of North Texas is in severe or extreme drought.
  • Burn bans remain in effect across the region. Dallas County's ban prohibits burning petroleum products, asphalt, household garbage and items containing natural or synthetic rubber.

Zoom in: For smaller counties in North Texas, some of which rely on volunteer fire departments, wildfires put a strain on already limited resources.

  • Since Aug. 1, more than 60 wildfires burned in Johnson County, between Fort Worth and Glen Rose, Jamie Moore, the county's emergency management director, said at a commissioners court meeting on Monday. Most of the fires were caused by people and could have been avoided.
  • "Unfortunately we're going to be stuck in this high fire danger up until the point that we get some appreciable rainfall over a few weeks' period of time," Moore said.

Be smart: The forest service offers these tips for protecting your home in the event of a wildfire.


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