Firefighters Gauge Shift in Wildfire Risk

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - By this time last year, more than two million acres across the state were scorched by fires. This year, the number's down to 55,000 acres.

It's no secret that the wildfire risk in Texas has shrunk but the nightmare for states like Colorado and Utah is just beginning.

"It kind of has a cycle pattern," Midland Fire Marshal, Jeff Meiner, said. "We're pretty much out of that pattern right now. It's moved to West New Mexico and Arizona."

So far, New Mexico is suffering its largest fire in recorded history this week, burning hundreds of thousands of acres.

The break came from more moisture in the air and La Nina's heat and dryness is gone.

But that hasn't stopped the triple digit temperatures from hitting us.

Firefighters said it will take an inch of rain a month to completely avoid a wildfire this summer.

The Texas Forest Service told NewsWest 9, no matter what, West Texas will always be a fire concern.

So firefighters are stressing, as more and more counties begin lifting their burn bans, to keep your grass mowed down so it doesn't grow tall and dry, which is perfect fire fuel.

"If we stay in this current pattern, we're going to see a lot of the green grass turn brown and our concern is that people will get complacent," Meiner said. "We're right on the edge so people will be able to buy fireworks and that makes our seasons a lot more dangerous because you have more ignition sources out there."

The heat and dryness of West Texas makes fire risk unique, and break or not, safety never skips a season.