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Fort Hood wildfire nearly contained, but training suspension continues

By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 26, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas – Wildfires burning across the Fort Hood training area this week are now more than 80 percent contained, according to a statement from post officials.

However, live-fire training remains suspended until further notice, the officials said.

"The use of past and current prescribed burns as a preventative measure to deny fuel to the fires, as well as a favorable wind direction, along with the extensive ongoing efforts by fire and military personnel have helped stop the range fires from spreading," said Sergio Campos, Fort Hood’s fire chief. 

Firefighting operations will continue to suppress and contain the fires, which are located within a remote section of the training grounds known as the impact area. It contains munitions and unexploded ordnance. Thursday’s firefighting operations included fire personnel and military units using air-water drops on hot spots and bulldozers to cut and widen fire breaks.

Since July 17, eight helicopters conducting aerial fire suppression along with six military bulldozers conducting offensive and defensive operations to suppress and contain the fire that, at its largest, encompassed about 8,500 acres of the sprawling 214,000-acre post.

More than 60,000 work hours have been dedicated to fighting the blazes and ongoing heat has been a safety concern.

Weather in the central Texas region has been hot and dry, with daily high temperatures surpassing 100 degrees for more than a week. The forecast from the National Weather Service shows relief might come Monday with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms. Winds have also calmed. On Tuesday, when the fire ramped up and training was first suspended, wind gusts measured at 20 mph.

The fire now poses no immediate risk of leaving the installation boundary, nor does it pose an immediate threat to life or property, according to the news release.

Fort Hood is home to 36,000 soldiers and about 45,000 military dependents living in the surrounding communities. It’s the Army’s largest armored post and home to the 1st Cavalry Division. Fort Hood’s commanding headquarters, III Corps, is now deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, as the headquarters of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

Thayer.rose@stripes.com
Twitter: @Rose_Lori
 

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