Texas Wildfires Still Burning

April 20, 2011

From flooding to hailstorms to fire, it seems the central United States can’t catch a break this week. In today’s installment of Environmental Hazards and You, it’s the latter risk that is running rampant, this time in Texas.

As is typical in a La Nina year, Texas had an extremely dry winter, and the spring has been warmer and dryer than is usual, as well. This, combined with all the violent windstorms, is a fire threat waiting to happen. Except it’s not waiting. So far, almost 1.8 million acres of land have been seared this year, and that’s not all in the open plains. Instead, there are residential areas being burned, including 150 upscale homes in Possum Kingdom Lake, which is about seventy miles west of Fort Worth. Two days ago, 400 Palo Pinto residents (50 miles west of Fort Worth) were ordered to evacuate, and the inmates of the county jail were moved to other facilities, as well.

In another part of the state, there were 200 families who were forced to evacuate from a neighborhood in Austin, after a separate fire was caused by a homeless man’s untended campfire and high winds.

So far, none of the fires (there are more) are completely contained, but you can bet residents of Texas who are both east and west of the fires are taking this as an object lesson in the need for homeowners and fire insurance coverage.