Dry and hot weather conditions which have been prevailing across the US Plains for a few months, have combined with strong winds and record October heat to trigger strong wildfires over the last couple of days. In response to the situation, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency for Bastrop County on October 15, 2015.
Raging Hidden Pines Fire in Bastrop County, Texas had so far burned 4 383 acres of ground and devastated 34 homes, however, no injuries have been reported so far. The fires, contained only 25% by latest reports, have already prompted several evacuations in the county on October 13 and 14.
Video credit: ABC News
The outburst of wildfires is due to prolonged dry and hot weather conditions across the Plains for the last couple of months. A period of heavy rains and strong floods in May 2015, was replaced with a period of persistent extreme drought. Vegetation that was bulging strongly during the floods has grown widely, and has provided an ideal fire fuel, being completely parched of water over the last couple of months.
A daily temperature record dating back to October 13, 1991 was broken in Austin, Texas on October 12, as mercury hit 37.2 °C (99 °F).
High temperatures and low relative humidity will continue in central Texas throughout October 16, due to a persistent ridge of high pressure situated over the West.
In general, a number of wildfires were reported across the Plains on October 13 and 14, and they are estimated to have burnt down over 5 000 acres so far, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. The Hidden Pines fire is the most serious in this season's Texas fiery complex.
Video credit: Texas Parks and Wildfires
Over thousand people have been evacuated from their homes in Wyoming, where strong winds spread a fast landfill fire over 41.4 square kilometers (16 square miles), burning down 13 homes and dispelling animals and livestock.
"All they needed was a spark. Now they're finally burning. The fuel bed is almost continuous," said Kelly Allen, a National Weather Service fire program manager in Riverton, Wyoming.
Bastrop County has already been battered by severe fires only 4 years ago. The Bastrop Couny Complex Fire, the most destructive fire in the history of Texas, started on September 4, 2011, burnt down 34 068 acres and took 37 days to contain. It claimed lives of 2 people and destroyed 1 669 homes and 40 buildings.
Featured image: Texas wildfire, October 13, 2015. Image credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife