A large wildfire burning across 500 acres in Huntsville, Texas, forced some parts of the city to evacuate Friday, as forecasters are predicting extremely hot weather to persist over Labor Day weekend.
According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the fire, named the “Game Preserve Fire,” has burned an estimated 500 acres and is 0% contained.
Aircraft are dropping water to assist with firefighting efforts, the Walker County Office of Emergency Management said.
The county’s emergency management office has recommended evacuation for everyone within 3 miles of Lost Indian Camp Road. A large area northwest of Huntsville has been evacuated, Stephanie Harris, communications supervisor for the Walker County, told CNN.
Huntsville, the county seat of Walker County, is located north of Houston, Texas.
On July 21, Walker County issued a burn ban prohibiting outside burning. On Thursday night, the emergency management office said dry conditions led to critical fire weather conditions.
Earlier Friday, Governor Greg Abbott announced he directed the Texas A&M Forest Service to activate an air tanker base in Austin to assist in wildfire suppression efforts across the state ahead of Labor Day weekend.
The air tanker base, stationed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, is equipped to handle all air tankers from the national fleet, the governor’s office said.
“Additional resources through this airtanker base will provide even greater support to state and local officials as they swiftly respond,” the governor said in a news release. “With triple-digit heat forecasted for this Labor Day weekend, I urge Texans to remain weather-aware and limit any activities that may cause sparks or flames that could lead to accidental fires.”
Large parts of the southern US, including Texas and Louisiana have experienced extreme heat and drought this summer, resulting in conditions conducive to wildfires. In June, Texas experienced a serious heat wave, with temperatures reaching triple-digits. And a wildfire in Austin burned for over two days and destroyed at least one apartment building in early August.