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Drought Mixed with High Fire Danger Causes Firefighters to Get Creative

With much of Texoma still under red flag warnings, meaning weather conditions are ideal for an increase of fires, and water in short supply local fire departments are trying to keep up with the calls while trying to save as much of the precious resource used to put out fires as possible.
With much of Texoma still under red flag warnings, meaning weather conditions are ideal for an increase of fires, and water in short supply, local fire departments are trying to keep up with the calls while trying to save as much of the precious resource used to put out fires as possible.

Hayden Hansen with Wichita East Volunteer Fire Department says his department is doing everything they can to conserve water. But there are also things you can do to help keep the number of fires down as well.

When humidity is low, wind is up and temperatures are mild, fire chances increase and that wind can really make it hard for firefighters to keep up.

“The fire's moving a lot faster and we actually have to chase it, and you know when it's moving that fast, you don't really know where it's gonna go and how quickly it's gonna get there. So we have to catch it before it gets to homes and barns and thing of value,” says Hansen.

To lower your chances of getting your valuables burned...

“Keep the grass down around your house. A lot of people pile firewood against their house, don't keep their bushes off their house, whatever you can do to keep that off your house. If we can stop it before it catches that on fire then gets up in your eve and catches your house on fire,” says Hansen.

When they do have to fight a fire, thanks to the drought, they try to use as little water as possible.

“We do a lot more hand work with shovels and hoes and tools to not have to use as much water. A lot more ground work, a lot more walking, it puts a bigger toll on the firemen,” says Hansen.

Using alternative methods to put out a fire is now covered in their training.

“We don't do as much live fire training because of the water situation and we can't charge the lines to do drills with water. So it does affect a lot of our new guys who haven't really gotten out and actually used water to fight fires, they don't really understand,” says Hansen.

Again, since water is in short supply these days, Wichita East Officials say they try stocking up on reuse water as well so they can minimize tapping into the city's potable supply.

Wichita Falls Fire Department Assistant Chief Jon Reese says during red flag warnings they do stack their staff to have more people available, but thankfully, so far, they haven't seen an increase in calls.

He says he believes citizens are more aware of fire danger because of the drought, so they are being more careful, hoping to save water.

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