Fire risk increases in Wise County

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Excessive heat, dry vegetation, low humidity and the addition of winds picking up today are expected to create dangerous fire conditions in Wise County.
The National Weather Service issued a fire danger statement Thursday morning for Wise and several surrounding counties with high temperatures expected to range between 105 and 110, relative humidity between 10 and 20 percent and winds between 10 and 15 mph.
Paradise and Cottondale firefighters are battling a barn, vehicle and grass fire on Sunflower Road.
In the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), which measures the wildfire potential by taking into account the soil moisture, the county is at an average of 690, the highest in the state, on a scale ranging from 0 to 800. The top end of the scale represents completely dry conditions. Much of the county is above 700 with the high of 727.
Cody Powell, Wise County Emergency Management Coordinator, said the heat is the biggest worry today. An excessive heat warning is effect for today and Friday with temperatures exceeding 105. It’s the first time since August 2011 that the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for North Central Texas.
“Along with the dryness, wind and relative humidity, the X factor is the heat,” Powell said. “In 110 degree heat, it doesn’t take long to tax guys. A lot of the guys were out fighting fires yesterday. If something big happens, it’ll deplete resources quickly.”
Several departments battled a large grass fire between Alvord and Decatur Wednesday afternoon.
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office is dispatching three departments on the initial response to any fires and putting the next nearest station on standby. Powell said Wise County EMS is stocked and ready to perform rehab at any fires.
Powell suggested residents consider dropping off cases of water and sports drinks at fire stations to help.
“The biggest thing citizens can do is stop by and drop off a case of water or [sports drinks],” he said. “They are almost all volunteers and they are the ones keeping the county from burning.”
A 90-day burn ban is effect and the Sheriff’s Office is issuing citations for violations.

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