COLLEGE STATION, Texas: Palo Pinto County has adopted a plan to reduce risks and better prepare for wildfires.
Palo Pinto County, west of Fort Worth, is the 24th county to complete a Community Wildfire Protection Plan in Texas. A Community Wildfire Protection Plan is a proven strategy for reducing wildfire risk to communities. The Palo Pinto County plan establishes goals and strategies for long-term success by identifying priorities and proposing immediate measures to protect communities, especially those at the highest risk, from wildland fire.
They developed the plan in cooperation with Palo Pinto County officials, local fire departments, and Texas A&M Forest Service representatives.
“With the signing and implementation of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, we took a big step toward improving the safety and security of the citizens and visitors of Palo Pinto County,” said Ricky Hunter, Palo Pinto County Emergency Management Coordinator. “Wildfires will remain a threat, but this plan, and the involvement and support of the community, will help to lower that threat. I want to thank all our volunteer fire departments, Palo Pinto County Emergency Services District 1, and Texas A&M Forest Service for their help in achieving this important goal.”
Wildfires have impacted the county in recent years, and it is subject to Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak events.
On April 9, 2011, conditions aligned to create a Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak, which resulted in 144 wildfires burning more than 582,000 acres. The PK Complex ignited in parched vegetation that day after ten consecutive days of critical fire weather. The rugged terrain around Possum Kingdom Lake also significantly influenced fire behavior.
The wildfire burned uphill, causing it to travel rapidly and burn intensely. As a result, it exposed homes along hilltops and ridges to some of the most extreme fire behavior that emergency responders observed that year.
The wildfire burned 126,734 acres in Palo Pinto, Young, and Stephens counties and destroyed 168 homes. It is the 10th largest wildfire to burn in Texas since 1988.
The 2011 wildfire season in Texas was unprecedented, and wildfires have continued to threaten the communities of Palo Pinto County. In 2022, the busiest fire year since 2011, 12,411 wildfires burned across Texas. Of that total, 123 wildfires burned in Palo Pinto County. The largest of these wildfires was the 11,598-acre Dempsey Fire, which threatened the town of Graford.
“Completing this plan is a great first step towards reducing the county’s risk from wildfire,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “By focusing on actions that improve preparedness and response to wildfire, Palo Pinto County can work towards becoming a more resilient community.”
Initial conversations and meetings for the Palo Pinto plan occurred during the fall of 2021. However, as the 2022 wildfire year began, they needed to reinforce a comprehensive plan.
On March 3, the Palo Pinto County Community Wildfire Protection Plan was approved and signed by the County Commissioners and Texas A&M Forest Service.
To learn more about Community Wildfire Protection Plans and reducing your risk from wildfire, visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/ProtectYourCommunity/.