The volatile grass fires that forced the closure of Interstate 20 and Interstate 30 last week may just be the beginning.
An elevated fire threat is in place Monday, but a fire weather watch has been issued for areas north and west of Fort Worth on Tuesday and Wednesday, which includes Parker and Wise counties.
And don’t be surprised if that gets elevated to a red flag warning, which occurs when humidity levels drop below 30 percent and winds gust higher than 20 mph for two or more hours.
“We’re talking anywhere west of Metroplex you could have some problems,” National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Huckaby said. “Right now it looks like the worst could be toward Graham and Possum Kingdom Lake but really we could see a fire anywhere with these dry conditions.”
There are some parallels with 2011, when wildfires devastated the Possum Kingdom Lake area.
As in 2011, there is plenty of vegetation from a wet year that suddenly turned dry, Huckaby said. Wildfires destroyed 167 homes around Possum Kingdom. As of last summer, 88 had been rebuilt.
Last week’s 2,153-acre grass fire was started by sparks from a power line near Willow Park. It quickly spread to the east, coming close to the new Walsh development in far west Fort Worth and burning up to the edge of Interstate 20.
“Those conditions we had last week are again possible this week,” Parker County spokesman Joel Kertok said. “If you see a grass fire, if you see smoke, report it to law enforcement immediately. Don’t assume somebody else already has.”
Temperatures on Tuesday will climb into the low 60s with wind gusts near 25 mph. Wednesday, temperatures are expected to be in the low 70s, with gusts as high as 35 mph. The only question will be whether humidity creeps back into North Texas to lessen the fire threat.
Forecasters warn that the grass fire threat will probably stick around until spring, perhaps some time in March.
“This will probably come up once a week for the next couple of months,” Huckaby said.