Fire Danger Preparations Intensify Across West Texas

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

WEST TEXAS - It's a recipe for disaster: high winds and low humidity have created such a strong potential for fire in the Basin, and the Texas Forest Service has all hands on deck. They've brought in the most powerful equipment for firefighting in the state.

The Fire Retardant Refill Station is a combination of a Single Engine Air Tanker and other ground units. It's the first time they've used Midland's Airport as a base. The Texas Forest Service tells NewsWest 9, that's an indication of just how dangerous our fire conditions are.

There's only two of the stations in the entire state and both of them are sitting on our dry West Texas soil, one in Midland, the other in Fort Stockton.

"We had high winds, we had high winds yesterday, we'll have more high winds tomorrow," Mary Dodson, with the Texas Forest Service, said. "It's very dry. There's been no measureable precipitation for awhile. So very hazardous conditions right now."

The Forest Service tells NewsWest 9, bringing in contract pilots and ground tankers are a necessary step in making sure West Texas is ready to fight the flames.

"That's a big deal because things have to get pretty bad before the Texas Forest Service will commit to bringing in on-call contracts like us, because it is expensive and they don't waste money," S.E.A.T. Pilot Jim Watson, said.

The operators tell NewsWest 9, the S.E.A.T. planes are a big benefit to taxpayers, because they're used with the ground units, they cost the same as bringing in heavy tankers.