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Fires Eat Up Texas Timber

Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force
Air tankers, like this one, are being used for fire retardant drops on a pair of East Texas fires.

First, it was West and North Texas being scorched by wildfire. Now, it's East Texas's turn. Two large fires there have burned a combined total of 22,200 acres since last weekend. Eight smaller fires are also burning in the eastern part of the states.

The Bearing fire, southwest of Lufkin has burned 18,200 acres. The Dyer Mill fire, southeast of Navasota has consumed 4,000 acres and has prompted the evacuation of 1,800 homes and businesses in the area.

Richard Reuse is a Public Information Officer for the Texas Forest Service. He says fire season normally comes to East Texas this time of year. But the size of the fires worries him.

“It’s because of this terrible drought we’re having that they’re getting up to the size they are,” said Reuse. “The fires in East Texas have been able to really move rapidly and get up into the tops of the pines and run, which is what we call crown fires and that’s where they move very, very quickly. “

Reuse says when the fire crowns in the trees, they're harder to contain.

East Texas is well known for its vast amount of pine trees and much of the timber in the area is used for paper and timber production.