Texans helping out with New Mexico wildfires

Fort Worth Star-TelegramWhen nearly 4 million acres of Texas went up in smoke last year, more than 16,000 emergency responders from all 50 states and Puerto Rico helped the Lone Star State's beleaguered firefighters beat back the flames. Now, Texas is returning the favor. Fifteen emergency responders, including 11 from the Forest Service, headed to New Mexico over the weekend to aid in recovery efforts on the Little Bear Fire near Ruidoso. "This is our chance to say thank you; we have a big debt to repay," said Tom Boggus, director of the Texas Forest Service which contended with 10,331 fires last year at a cost of around $337 million. "We are available to help our neighbors. If we have the resources they need, we will go," he said Monday. Fire experts say that the same combustible combination of prolonged drought, heat and strong winds that created last year's Texas firestorm is still in place over much of the Rocky Mountain region."The drought ended over Texas and stayed in place over the Rockies," said Ed Delgado, national predictive services meteorologist at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. "Last year in Texas was quite an anomaly; it was a combination of all the things you don't want. You were in the midst of a 20-month drought, coupled with extreme temperatures that caused all the vegetation to be primed for fire," he said. All told, 6,500 firefighters from local, state and federal agencies are now committed to fighting large fires across the country, said Jennifer Jones, a public affairs specialist at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.The Texas responders joined more than 1,100 firefighters battling the 38,000-acre Little Bear Fire which has destroyed 242 homes and businesses. Another fire in the Gila Wilderness, already the largest in New Mexico history, has now blackened 463 square miles. Read More News New Mexico

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