Texas hearings live

Here’s a tip from Michael Archer’s “Wildfire News of the Day”

ABC 7 in Amarillo is livestreaming the Texas House Committee that’s  investigating the deadly Panhandle wildfires; it resumes testimony today in Pampa.Before testimony began, Chairman Ken King, R-Canadian, said Osmose decided the company does not need to participate in the investigation. Osmose is a third-party contractor that inspects power poles for Xcel Energy. The company is named in some of the wildfire related lawsuits.

According to one of the lawsuits, the pole determined to be the ignition source of the Smokehouse Creek Fire should have been removed after it was inspected by Osmose earlier this year.

Day 2 of testimony in legislative hearings on deadly Panhandle wildfires:

One of the witnesses is explaining that without the many loads of water and retardant dumped on the Smokehouse Fire, his town would have completely burned to the ground. (Remember as you listen that the references to the “Forest Service” is not the federal USDA agency — it’s Texas A&M Forest Service.)

Here’s Day 1 of testimony, with a transcript:

A prescribed burn stalled a huge Texas fire — and Smokehouse Creek Fire hits the million-acre mark

Aerial images from Hutchinson County, Texas shot with a drone yesterday show the aftermath of a huge fire adjacent to a 7-mile swath of land that was prescription burned a few months ago near Borger, a Panhandle town of about 12,000 in north Texas.

Borger, Texas
Borger, Texas, on Wednesday. Photo by City of Borger / Hutchinson County Office of Emergency Management.
15:08 CST 02/29
15:08 CST 02/29

Northeast of there, the Smokehouse Creek Fire, the largest of at least five other active fires in the Panhandle, has burned over 1 million acres, leaving charred homes and buildings behind. The fire’s doubled in size since 03:00 CST on 02/28.

The drone images in a CNN report feature a 7-mile prescribed burn that was conducted a few months ago.

Officials with Borger’s Office of Emergency Management said the prescribed burn prevented a fire flank from spreading into the southern parts of the town, including the Meadowlark, Country Club, and Bunavista areas.

Borger map

“As much damage as we have, our proactive efforts did prevent even more,” Hutchinson County officials said. — [Panhandle fires photo gallery]

The fires in Texas and Oklahoma have burned so much land that the blackened ground is visible from space. Satellite imagery captured burn scars stretching from the Texas Panhandle into western Oklahoma Wednesday afternoon.

Satellite images from Monday morning and Wednesday afternoon show burn scars in the Texas Panhandle in the wake of devastating fires. CIRA/RAMMB
Satellite shots show burn scars in the Texas Panhandle in the wake of devastating fires. CIRA/RAMMB images.

Burn scars are often a combination of burned vegetation, debris, and a scorched layer of soil. In the satellite image above, the burn scar appears as charcoal gray and black against the tan unburned ground around it.

 ~ Thanks and a tip of the hardhat to Chris and Alison.