Texas A&M Forest Service helping battle Northwest wildfires

Firefighters from Texas are in western states trying to help contain wildfires before they destroy any more homes.

"There are currently 108 large fires burning and they've burned more than 2 million acres," said Erin O’Connor, public information officer with Texas A&M Forest Service.

The Texas A&M Forest Service sent about 45 of their personnel to help battle wildfires devastating parts of the western United States. "We have personnel in California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington right now," O’Connor said

Dozer crews, engine crews and overhead support teams are working up to 16 hours a day - sometimes hiking through rugged terrain to save homes in the path of growing flames.

"When we send personnel out of state, they're typically gone between 14 and 21 days, and then they'll come back in state and they might go out again, or we send other personnel to take their place and do kind of like a crew swap," said O’Connor.

The Dixie Fire in Northern California has already burned 200 square miles, forcing thousands to leave their homes behind. High winds and dry vegetation is making the battle more difficult. The Forest Service said, under those conditions, it’s easy for fires to outpace suppression efforts.

"They have drought conditions right now. And then you couple that with hot and dry, warm conditions, low humidity levels, decreased rainfall amounts, and you kind of start creating this fire environment that's just conducive to fire activity and burning," O’Connor said.

Luckily there has been more rainfall in Texas this summer, keeping wildfire danger lower than usual there.

"Our activity level right now remains well below normal. So we are in a position that we can send some personnel out of state, since we're not currently very active in state," said O’Connor.

However, the Forest Service expects the western wildfire season to continue into the fall.

So, unless conditions change and the risk increases in Texas, Forest Service personnel will continue to travel west in the coming months.

"So we can assist our counterparts in the west, just like they've done for us in the past," O’Connor said.

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