UPDATE

Fire Weather Watch issued for Tuesday, Wednesday


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After a busy weekend battling grass fires, Wise County firefighters could potentially face another pair of challenging days.
The National Weather Service in Fort Worth has issued a Fire Weather Watch for the county from 11 a.m. Tuesday through 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“It’s more of the same — dry fuels, breezy winds, warmer than average temperature and low humidity,” said Jennifer Dunn, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. “Conditions will be ripe for fires.”
Tuesday, winds are expected to be around 15 mph and temperatures in the low 60s. Wednesday, high temperatures are predicted to hit the low 70s with winds gusting to 25 to 30 mph. On both days, the humidity levels will be in the 20s.
“Locations to the west [of Wise County] will be in the teens,” Dunn said about the humidity level.
Decatur Fire Chief Mike Richardson said the forecast brings some uneasiness after several busy weeks. He said the department has responded to more than 200 calls this month. The department generally averages between 150 and 160 calls per month.
“We’re struggling to keep up,” Richardson said.
“Usually on a wildfire we try to get a lot of people there early. The problem lately is we’ve had them all at the same time.”
Wise County Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty said dispatch reported 29 calls over the weekend for fires. He cautioned that some of the calls were duplicates.
Doughty added that Paradise, Boyd and Bridgeport departments were staffing their stations Tuesday for the potential of fire.
Conditions will improve slightly with a cold front Thursday, Dunn said. But the county is not expected to see longterm relief from the current dry pattern. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday showed moderate drought in Wise County.
In the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), which measures the wildfire potential by taking into account the soil moisture, the county average is 414 on a scale ranging from 0 to 800. The top end of the scale represents completely dry conditions.
“Unfortunately there’s no relief in the next seven to 10 days,” Dunn said.

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