The Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) is deploying one Wildland Firefighting strike team with two bulldozers to Texas, where they will assist state and federal partners with wildfire suppression efforts. Five MFC Wildland Firefighters will travel overnight arriving in Merkel, Texas on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.
“We appreciate our employees taking part in these efforts to help our state and federal partners in Texas. Fighting the destructive power of wildfire means that our Wildland Firefighters are working in extreme conditions protecting people’s lives, homes, and forestland,” said Charlie Morgan, State Forester. “We are proud of their service and look forward to their safe return home in approximately two weeks.”
On March 18, 2018, the Texas A&M Forest Service reported 111 wildfires that burned 24,968 acres of land in Texas over the last seven days. North and West Texas are currently under critical and elevated fire risks.
How the Mississippi Forestry Commission fights wildfires
MFC Wildland Firefighters “fight fire with fire”. They plow a fire line (aka fire break) with bulldozers around the perimeter of the wildfire, then light a controlled backfire along the inner edge of the fire line to consume the vegetation – this lack of “fuel” for the wildfire creates a barrier to slow or stop the spread of the wildfire. However, their job is not yet finished – even after containment has been reached, wildland firefighters continue to monitor the area. Since the wind can spread hot embers across fire lines, new spot fires may occur as far away as one-half mile from the original wildfire that must be suppressed. Depending on the size, location, wind conditions, and intensity of the wildfire – it may have to be monitored anywhere from several hours to several days to make sure the wildfire is no longer a threat to life, property, or forestland.