~The fire season never ended, it just hybernated. Check this article out. Get ready for another BIG year guys.
State Forestry Officials Fear Fires
By DANNY M. BOYD
Associated Press Writer
IDABEL, Okla. (AP) -- Devastating winter ice storms that pummeled three states and left thousands of mangled trees littered across the region could be the source of yet another disaster: wildfires.
Forestry officials in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas fear a potential summertime inferno on hundreds of thousands of acres where trees were snapped and shredded by the storm.
"I don't think it's a question of if. That fuel's on the ground. We'll have a hot, dry summer, if not this year, the next,'' said Pat McDowell, assistant director of the forestry division at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.
The nation is coming off its worst fire season in a half century. Wildfires blackened about 7 million acres in the United States last year, with the majority of damage occurring in the West.
Ice that fell Christmas Day damaged trees in the rolling timber country of southeast Oklahoma, northeast Texas and a large swath of Arkansas.
In Oklahoma, more than 500,000 acres are scattered with a tinderbox of destroyed trees, often surrounding tiny communities tucked away in the pines with little or no fire protection. The state sustained $200 million in damage to the timber crop, according to preliminary estimates.
Texas estimates $46 million in timber damage in three counties where 80,000 acres of pine forests have increased risk for wildfires.
In Arkansas, timber on more than 200,000 acres was destroyed or heavily damaged, causing more than $50 million in losses. Additionally, timber companies report $154 million in heavy damage and losses on 445,000 acres, said George Rheinhardt with the Arkansas Forestry Commission.
"There's a tremendous amount of fuel on the ground out there and if it turns dry we have the potential for catastrophic fires,'' Rheinhardt said.
The three states are bracing for summer blazes by seeking money for more bulldozers, aircraft and workers.
Outdated, undersized equipment could add to any fire damage in Oklahoma. State forestry bulldozers, bought in the 1980s, are too small to move massive logs and debris in order to build a fire line during a blaze, McDowell said.
Firefighters might instead have to rely on roads and natural breaks such as rivers and creeks to contain blazes that would burn themselves out.
Officials are seeking $3.5 million for 17 new, bigger bulldozers. They also want $6 million for contracts for standby services from larger helicopters capable of hauling big buckets of water to help cool the flames while workers build fire lines.
"This is not standard equipment replacement,'' he said. "The stuff we've got is not big enough anymore.''
The aging bulldozers are not covered with canopies to protect forestry workers from falling, flaming limbs and would be incapable of helping workers bulldoze their way out of surrounding fire, McDowell said.
Fires are already causing problems this year in Florida. Since Jan. 1, more than 83,000 acres have burned, including a 10,000-acre swamp blaze that has shut down part of a central Florida interstate. The fire is 70 percent contained but days away from being extinguished.
"When the bell goes ding-ding, its time to get on the woo-woo."
"Dusting desire - starting to learn. Walking through fire with out a burn..."
Youngstown Fire Department
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02-22-2001, 08:59 AM #1daysleeper47Firehouse.com Guest
Another BIG year already in progress
03-04-2001, 03:53 PM #2JmorganFirehouse.com Guest
I live in Northwest Arkansas and I went to Oklahoma City this weekend via Fort Smith,AR.
From around Fort Smith to Ok City everywhere I look there was atleast one tree with broken limbs and usually 5 or 6 trees like that.
It may get bad here but right now we are above normal in moisture.
FF2 in Arkansas
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