Captain Chuck Weerts and Driver Engineer Nick Smith of the Texarkana Texas Fire Department (TTFD) were deployed on May 2nd, 2018 as part of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) team responding to the McDannald Ranch Fire west of Brown Mountain in Jeff Davis County, Texas.
The fire, which was believed to have started from a lightening strike, has burned more than 12,000 acres at this time and is approximately 15% contained.
The team will head to Ft. Davis, Texas which is a mountainous area, making the fire difficult to fight with traditional wildfire tactics, such as bulldozers. Two TIFMAS strike teams have been deployed at this time, and fire departments from the area sending personnel include: Mt. Pleasant, Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Beaumont and Longview.
Texarkana Texas Fire Chief Eric Schlotter is confident in TTFD’s TIFMAS team.
“These two firefighters have a ton of training and experience in situations like these,” he said. “They are eager to help contain this fire in a part of Texas that is vulnerable to wildfire.”
The Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System is mobilized by the Texas A&M Forest Service and makes statewide use of local resources who have partnered to support TIFMAS with equipment and firefighters. Any jurisdiction in the state can request an activation of the system.
Also, Battalion Chief Alan Sikes and Driver Engineer Eric McCasland are currently deployed on the Mallard Fire southeast of Amarillo. The fire is currently 73,521 acres and is 20 % contained.
“Our crews have worked to clear several miles of fire line with chainsaws to prepare for a burn out operation. This is where they light a fire to burn out ahead of the approaching fire,” he said.
The last few days, firefighters have been preparing the area around structure to prevent them from catching fire. They have been working over 12 hours a day to battle the fire. The area is expecting some rain, but there is a low chance of changes.”