JOHANNS ANNOUNCES USDA ASSISTANCE TO COMBAT WILDFIRES IN TEXAS AND OKLAHOMA
WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2005- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced today the USDA is responding quickly to calls for assistance with the wildfires currently burning in Texas and Oklahoma.
"Governor Perry has a good handle on the state and federal resources available to respond to these wildfires and continues to provide bold leadership to firefighters who are making headway combating these fires," said Johanns. "The governor has requested assistance from USDA and we have quickly responded by dispatching equipment and firefighters to the area and stand ready to provide additional assistance."
Currently, the USDA Forest Service equipment assigned to the incidents include four heavy airtankers, four Single Engine Airtankers (SEATs), two large Type 1 helicopters and two medium Type 2 helicopters as well as a lead plane. Forest Service firefighting specialists in planning and logistics are also working with the Texas Forest Service and a Type 1 Incident Management Team is traveling to the area. The deployment is being coordinated through the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), which also includes the Department of Interior.
Forest Service Wildland fire Predictive Services units in the Southeast are predicting continued high winds as new cold front passages are expected to continue into early next week. High winds coupled with drought conditions are fanning the flames of five fires in Texas burning 15,000 acres and forcing evacuation in several communities. Fires in Texas and Oklahoma have already burned dozens of homes and caused multiple injuries.