By Geena Martinez
MIDLAND - The Texas Forest Service issued an alert Tuesday saying dangerous wildfires could happen at anytime in the next few days and it's not just West Texas they're worried about.
Fire officials in more than half the state are getting ready for what could be a very busy week ahead.
"Last year at this time of the year, it wasn't as bad," Lori Hazel, with the Texas Forest Service, said. "Normally our fire season in this area usually picks up later on in the Spring time, but right now, it's probably one of the worst we've seen in several years."
It's so bad, the Forest Service is warning residents west of Interstate 35 to brace for potentially dangerous wildfires. That alert stretches from El Paso all the way down to Del Rio.
"Our local fire departments are seeing a real increase in the number of fires that they're being called out to and these fires are getting bigger than they have been in the past few months," Hazel said.
Although the recent winter storm brought precipitation, it actually made the situation worse.
"With all the frost, it killed vegetation around, we have a lot greater risk for fires," Hazel said.
Just this past weekend, the Forest Service responded to 30 wildfires that scorched more than 5,000 acres.
Right now, they're setting up task forces and even preparing airplanes to drop flame retardant in certain hotspot areas.
"We have air support out of Sweetwater and Abilene right now but the air support is for everybody," Hazel said. "They'll respond to wherever they're needed throughout the state."
Fire crews shouldn't be the only ones getting ready to face possible infernos. Homeowners should be on alert too.
"If you live in an area where you know there's a fire danger or you look around in your yard or off to the distance and you see nothing but brown dead grass and fuels, you need to have a plan of attack to get out," Hazel said.
The Forest Service says to only burn your brush if absolutely necessary. Also, keep a fire extinguisher and fire department numbers handy because it only takes one spark to start a blaze.