Fire departments progress with fire mitigation

Tabitha Fleming
Staff Writer

With the dry winds of fall the danger of wildfire is ever present in the Texas Panhandle and Borger Emergency Management Coordinator Jason Whisler reports that the department has been hard at work finalizing the fire breaks around the city. The fire breaks, which are created by clearing brush and other fire fuels from wide swaths of land are an essential safety net for the city, which is home to over 13,000 Texans.
This county is no stranger to the danger of wildfire, the Double Diamond fire which destroyed many homes in Fritch is still fresh in the minds of residents. It's a similar disaster that the fire mitigation efforts are attempting to prevent.
“We have conducted a lot of work in advance of this year's fire season and are very proud of the progress and support we've received,” said Whisler. “These efforts over the years have gained national recognition and invitations to speak with various communities and home owner associations around the Borger and Amarillo area to share our success and offer advice on what they can do to save people's houses.”
With winter approaching, the vegetation is quickly drying out and is starting to become receptive to fire. Prior to the much needed rains, there was a sustained drought that killed off many trees. “These dead vertical fuel types are largely responsible for throwing embers across containment lines and promote wide spread spot fires,” Whisler explained.
“Areas around the city were evaluated based on topography, fuel loading, potential property loss and the prevailing winds,” he continued. “Using this information, a comprehensive action plan was put in place for crews to focus their fire mitigation efforts.”Already areas surrounding Borger have been cleared of brush and more work is planned.
“The inmate crews have been a big help,” said Whisler, of the crews provided by the county. The inmates have by all accounts been an excellent source of labor for the department. Supervised by the Borger Police Department, and the Fire Department, the crews have cleared brush by hand freeing up fire and emergency personnel for other work.
Borger's fire mitigation work has been recognized by many on both a state and national level. Currently the City of Borger is being considered for the Wildfire Mitigation Award which is awarded through a coalition of the National Association of State Foresters, International Fire Chief's Association, National Fire Prevention Association, and the US Forest Service.