March 29 (Reuters) – The potential for significant wildfires fueled by parched vegetation in parts of Texas and the U.S. Plains put the region on high alert on Tuesday as gusty winds and bone-dry humidity were in the forecast.
Red Flag Warnings, signaling that fires could start and spread easily, were issued for an area spanning western Texas, southern Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, the National Weather Service said.
The service warned that wind gusts reaching 50 miles (80 km) per hour, higher-than-usual temperatures and 10-15% humidity in the region could spark wildfires throughout the day and into the evening.
“It will be very unpleasant to be outside today due to strong winds and blowing dust. Do not engage in any activities that could spark a fire,” the National Weather Service in Lubbock, Texas said on Twitter.
The weather conditions, combined with extremely dry vegetation, increase the possibility of significant wildfires occurring and impacting communities, the Texas A&M Forest Service said in statement on Monday.
“Unfortunately, little to no precipitation is forecast for the immediate future and we expect the current level of wildfire activity to continue for some time,” Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service fire chief, said in the statement.
Some 726 wildfires have burned 164,257 acres (66,472 hectares) across Texas in March, causing several communities to evacuate, including Carbon in central Texas, where the Eastland Complex blazes destroyed most of the small town. A sheriff’s deputy died in the blaze while more than 150 structures were destroyed.
Over the weekend, a blaze called the NCAR Fire forced 19,000 people from their homes near Boulder, Colorado.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Will Dunham)