The recent heat wave over Texas has increased the frequency and severity of major wildfires across the state. On August 14, Gov. Abbott declared a statewide disaster over the rapidly spreading fires. About 75% of all counties in Texas are included in the disaster declaration, launching more than 190 municipalities into preparations to prevent and fight the fires.
A statewide emergency
Texas currently has around 540 wildfires burning across the state. According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the fires have destroyed 70,000 acres of land. The counties included in Mr. Abbott’s emergency declaration will have access to state resources to combat the encroaching threat of wildfires.
Municipal fire departments are banding together with state fire departments to tackle the blazes as best they can. While the state has greater resources for firefighting than municipalities, it will need as many trained firefighters as possible.
Cities and counties prepare to fight
The governor’s declaration of emergency is one significant measure at the state level. At the municipal level, city and county leaders are collaborating and making every effort to protect public safety. The following are some of the measures that municipalities have taken to do their part:
- Make public warnings
- Issue burn bans
- Warn against using machinery that may cause sparks
- Mobilize municipal firefighting services
As local officials consider more ways in which they can help, eyes will be on the effects of HB 2127. The recently passed law limits the power of cities and counties to make their own rules. This could severely hinder municipalities’ ability to combat the fires. If the inability of municipalities to pass regulations to minimize wildfires ends up contributing to more destruction, it could lead to backlash against HB 2127 as well as untold health and safety concerns for the future.