NewsLocal News


Heat wave making it harder for firefighters to put out fire near Falfurrias

Posted at 7:01 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 20:01:52-04

It’s been about four days since firefighters from across the Coastal Bend and the Rio Grande Valley started fighting a 6,000 acre fire about 30 miles away from Falfurrias.

James DeGrazia, Texas A&M Forest Service fire coordinator for the Edinburg regional area said the fire is at least 85 percent contained.

He said fighting the fire in extreme heat can be especially dangerous because as they get closer to the fire, it gets hotter.

“It makes it hard for equipment — not only to operate and stay cool while being around a fire, which generates an uptick of anywhere up to 150 degrees,” DeGrazia said.

He said the fire should be out in the next few days, but they are still taking precautions.

DeGrazia said the key to being a firefighter is making sure that members of his team are taking breaks to hydrate and eat.

He added they take breaks when the water they use to fight the fire, runs out.

Annaville Fire Department Chief Michael Clack said the water supply they use to extinguish fires can run out every 30 minutes to an hour.

That’s when they switch teams, allowing their volunteers to fight fires while their full-time firemen take a break. They might also take a break while other departments work the fire.

“One of the challenges is rehabbing them because there’s no way of getting AC to these locations and my guys will end up sleeping on a 26 foot hauler in the open environment just trying to get a little bit of rest before they go in again,” Clack said.

He said wearing masks can help prevent smoke inhalation, but the masks could also overheat them.

He also said a lack of volunteers is challenging them during the heat wave, meaning they have to rely on other fire departments who also have a lack of volunteers.

“Any agency that can get volunteers helps relieve — even if they’re paid — helps relieve some of the paid guys so we can rotate people in and out so it’s always a good thing to have more volunteers,” he said.

Clack said they have training every Tuesday if you want to be a volunteer. He also said they will help you get certified to become a firefighter.