COLLEGE STATION, Texas (FOX 44) – The Texas A&M Forest Service says that the fire environment, characterized by critically to extremely dry vegetation and critical fire weather, will support wildfire activity this week.

Areas of concern include the eastern Rolling Plains, Cross Timbers, Central Texas, North Texas near the Waco and Dallas-Fort Worth areas, and south along the Interstate 35 corridor – near the Capital region. The risk for significant fires is also expanding east to include portions of East Texas – including areas near Palestine, Crockett, Huntsville, Tyler and Marshall.

The Texas A&M Forest Service says that 99 percent of the state is experiencing some level of drought. The rainfall received last week was minimal, and offered only a temporary reprieve from the dry conditions in some areas.

On Monday, elevated to critical fire weather and critically dry vegetation contributed to extreme fire behavior in parts of North Central Texas and East Texas. Active crown fire and short-range spotting of embers and flammable material one quarter mile in front of the main wildfire were reported.

State and local firefighters, including Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) personnel, responded to 18 wildfires on Monday – for an estimated 6,594 acres burned. This includes the still-burning 1148 Fire in Palo Pinto County, the Chalk Mountain Fire in Somervell County and the Nelson Creek Fire in Walker County.

The 1148 Fire ignited in Palo Pinto County on the north side of Possum Kingdom Lake. The fire quickly escaped initial suppression efforts, prompting local officials to evacuate residents in the area. The evacuations have since been made voluntary. Firefighters engaged in structure protection and constructing containment line while suppression aircraft – including three fire boss single-engine air tankers – helicopters and large airtankers, provided aerial support. The fire is an estimated 500 acres, and is ten percent contained.

The Chalk Mountain Fire in Somervell County ignited southwest of Glen Rose and spread quickly through dry vegetation. Fire crews focused on operations related to life safety and structure protection, as well as constructing containment lines where possible. The fire is an estimated 4,000 acres, and is ten percent contained.

The Nelson Creek Fire in Walker County is burning approximately nine miles north of Huntsville, is 1,800 acres and is 35 percent contained. Ground crews and aviation resources made good progress overnight despite active fire behavior. The fire has burned into rough terrain, and forward progression has slowed.

The Texas A&M Forest Service says that aviation resources were available to assist throughout the day, and additional aircraft were ordered to respond – including a DC-10, one of the largest aircraft in the national airtanker fleet. Suppression aircraft dropped 141,000 gallons of water and retardant throughout the afternoon, effectively helping to slow the spread of the wildfires. A total of 38 aircraft are currently staged in state for wildfire response.

For current conditions and wildfire outlook, you can visit the Texas Fire Potential Outlook at https://bit.ly/3kemhbG.