Heavy rainfall is part of the reason the Concho Valley has seen more wildfires than usual this year

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The Concho Valley has seen more wildfires than usual this year

SAN ANGELO, Texas — While wildfires and grass fires are common in West Texas during this time, this year we have seen an increased number of them.

The Concho Valley saw lots of rainfall last spring, which caused an increase in grass growth but also the potential for fires.

“The rain stopped and so everything’s been drying out,” said Robyn Griffith, Wildlife and Urban Interface Specialist for the Texas A&M Forest Service.

With several consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures, Griffith says that nearly anything can ignite a fire. Some areas around the Concho Valley have seen scattered storms, but lightning combined with little rainfall makes for high fire potential.

“A lot of the heat from the lightning stays in the ground and it’ll dry up those fuels. They might not come out right away, we call them ‘holdover fires.’ They will come out a few days later, or just the next day, or even that night. It just depends on how dry those fuels in that area are,” explained Griffith.

Add in high wind speeds and a fire can quickly spread to cover a large area.

“Whenever it gets into the brush and trees it slows down a little bit, but we’ve got a lot of grass so it travels really fast through that,” added Griffith.

Griffith says that the Texas A&M Forest Service is ready to assist fire departments if they need help putting out a fire that has gotten out of control, but that everyone should be aware of anything that may start a fire. Something as simple as a trailer chain that is dragged on the road can ignite one.

“Our resources just moved to a closer area for a faster response if we do get more calls,” Griffith said, “We just want everybody to be aware and try and do your part to make sure nothing starts in your area. Anything that can be prevented, we would love further help.”

For more information on wildfires, you can visit tfsweb.tamu.edu.

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