The spring of 2022 was an exceptionally devastating and challenging time for Texans and firefighters during what would become one of the state’s most notable wildfire years. The extreme fire conditions, created by dry grasses and strong winds, caused intense fires to spread rapidly, putting lives and property at risk.
The largest and most destructive wildfires of 2022 were an outbreak of seven wildfires southwest of Eastland in Central Texas. Multiple fires in a geographic area are typically managed as a “complex” to efficiently manage resources and expedite response. The Eastland Complex, which began March 17, burned more than 54,000 acres by the time it was contained on March 31.
The Eastland Complex included:
• Walling Fire, Eastland County – 383 acres
• Kidd Fire, Eastland County – 42,333 acres
• Wheat Field Fire, Eastland County – 7,268 acres
• Oak Mott Fire, Brown County – 4,031 acres
• Blowing Basin Fire, Eastland County – 258 acres
• Mangum Fire, Eastland County – 11 acres
• Cedar Mountain Fire, Eastland County – 229 acres
Getting firefighting resources in place ahead of time
Before the Eastland Complex wildfires ignited, Texas A&M Forest Service predicted the increased wildfire risk for the region and responded, likely saving countless people and properties in the process.
Embedded within the agency as a part of its greater disaster response approach to keep Texas prepared, the Predictive Services and Applied Technology departments operate every day to forecast trends, determine high-risk areas and provide firefighters and fire managers the information they need to make decisions for their areas.
For example, the Predictive Services Department, in partnership with the Spatial Sciences Laboratory in the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology with the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has developed a suite of fire danger and fuel analysis products and maps that provide daily, weekly and seasonal outlooks for dangerous wildfire threats.
With the help of these information sources, Texas A&M Forest Service can coordinate preemptive resource staging to reduce wildfire risk, suppress wildfires and take quick, effective action to contain them.
“Leveraging this advanced technology allows the state to be proactive when preparing for and responding to wildfires,” said Wes Moorehead, associate director of forest resource protection and fire chief at the Texas A&M Forest Service. “There is no doubt in my mind that proactively utilizing this technology has saved lives, homes and critical infrastructure from wildfire.”
And, in March 2022, Texas A&M Forest Service had its work cut out for them.
“There is no doubt in my mind that proactively utilizing this technology has saved lives, homes and critical infrastructure from wildfire.”
- Wes Moorehead, associate director of forest resource protection and fire chief at the Texas A&M Forest Service
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