Extreme drought conditions, red flag warning sparks Bexar County fire crews to station strike teams

Residents are urged not to burn anything today due to the risks

Extreme drought and a Red Flag warning are a combination that puts firefighters on edge.

SAN ANTONIO – Extreme drought and a red flag warning in Bexar County have made for favorable fire conditions. It’s the type of situation that puts firefighters on edge because of how quickly a fire can start and spread.

“Those red flag warnings put the hair on the back of our necks up because we know with those situations if a fire starts, it’s going to be hard to catch,” said Lawrence Padalecki Jr., assistant fire chief for Bexar County ESD No. 12.

Understanding how fires can get out of hand if not responded to quickly, Bexar County district chiefs started working together to create strike teams.

Essentially, those teams have upped manpower and stationed brush truck strike teams on the east and west side of the county.

If a fire does break out, the nearest agency will respond and get back up from the strike team. This allows two things to happen.

One, there is a quick response and a large number of crews that show up together to be able to attack the flames from all sides early and often. Two, it also keeps neighboring agencies of the original fire free in case another fire starts.

“Basically, the strike team will go and assist that department wherever it is instead of depleting the whole area of resources,” said Padalecki.

Luckily, it’s been a slow day as of 4:30 p.m., Thursday, but Padalecki said that can change at any moment’s notice. For that reason, he still has a plea for residents.

“Don’t be dragging chains if you’re pulling a trailer, don’t throw out cigarette buds, don’t be doing any burning today in your trash barrel or burning brush. It’s just not worth the risk today,” said Padalecki.

About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.