AUSTIN, Texas - A common question that comes up whenever there's a wildfire in Texas: how does it get its name?
The Texas A&M Forest Service says that unlike with tropical storms and hurricanes, there is no pre-selected list of names. Instead, wildfires get their names from first responders, incident commanders and dispatchers, usually based on the geographic locations or landmarks near the origin of the fire.
Most names are linked in some way to the location of the fire, but some can be interesting, such as Smashed Taco, Iron Knob, Nappin Cowboy, Sleepy Sunday and Flying Monkey. There can also be some names with Texas connections, such as Lone Star, Alamo, DPS and Beaver Nugget., as well as TAMU, Long Horn and Rice.
From Dec. 9 to Aug. 29, the Texas A&M Forest Service says its crews responded to 1,725 wildfires burning nearly 600,000 acres.
Wildfire names from the 2022 season include Muddy Mess, Slip and Slide, Hit the Ditch, Circus, Ghost, Vacuum, Field of Dreams, Singing Yucca, Hot Cotton, Big Hippo, Big Joshua, Big L, Big Sniff, Little Buffalo, Little Stasney, and Little Thicket.
Sometimes, names can follow a theme, such as astronomy with fires named Apollo, Space X, Little Dipper, Stargazer and Wandering Rocket; traveling with fires named Cadillac, Rest Stop, Road Sign, Right of Way, Roadside, Speedy, Slowpoke, Shortcut and even Welcome Home; and even food with names like Bacon, Sausage, Peanut, Cashew, Slim Jim, Fish Fry, Marshmallow, Moonpie, Buttermilk, Margarita and Lemon Lime.
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Wildfire names even draw inspiration from animals and wildlife, with names like Ram, Zebra, Buck, Bear, Angry Beaver, Bobcat, Prairie Dog, Wolf, Quail, Locust, Gecko, Hawk, Bull Dog, Dalmatian and Bassett Bottoms.
However, not all fires get interesting names. In East Texas, where wildfires are frequent, wildfires don’t get a name unless they are large — more than 100 acres in forest fuels and more than 300 acres in grass fuels, says the Texas A&M Forest Service.
Smaller fires are usually referred to by the county name and an auto-generated number, such as the Cass 2852 Fire that burned seven acres in Cass County.