Texas crews make progress on 46,000-acre blaze, state preparedness level raised

The fire spread quickly due to windy, dry conditions

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Firefighters in Texas made progress overnight on a blaze spanning tens of thousands of acres. 

The Texas A&M Forest Service announced that the Borrega Fire in Kleberg County was 50% contained, stretching 46,000 acres. 

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"Aviation crews were busy yesterday supporting ground crews working to increase containment, it tweeted

This comes after the agency said the fire had been 20% contained earlier Thursday, with decreased acreage "due to aerial mapping." 

On Thursday morning, the fire was estimated to be 60,000 acres, spreading into neighboring Brooks and Jim Well counties, according to KIII TV.

The station said fire crews from across Coastal Bend and Texas have been working together to fight the massive fire. 

"Our crews are heavily engaged in the suppression efforts in the Borrega Fire. Terrain is difficult and fuels are dry, but an amazing amount of teamwork is being displayed from fire departments all over South Texas," Nueces County's Flour Bluff Fire Volunteer Fire Department wrote on Facebook. 

"It has been a very busy couple of days around here as Annaville crew members have assisted at multiple fires taking place in Nueces County, San Patricio County, Brooks County, Kenedy County and Kleberg County. One of these fires is ongoing and could take days to reach 100% containment. This has been an extremely busy brush fire season but firefighters from all around the area have stepped up and done a phenomenal job!" the Annaville Fire Department in Nueces County said in its own post. "May the good Lord continue protecting all of the brave men and women out there and keep the threatened communities out of [harm's] way."

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The fire started Wednesday afternoon at King Ranch, spreading due to windy and dry conditions. 

"Last night, the county implemented voluntary evacuations for residents in the Ricardo and Riviera communities. In addition to local first responders, 42 state and federal personnel are assigned to the incident, including three bulldozers, 16 fire engines and eight aircraft including an air attack platform and single engine air tankers. Additional resources have been mobilized to support suppression efforts on the wildfire," the forest service said in a Thursday news release

The release announced that it would increase the State Preparedness Level to Level 4, citing the significant increase in wildfire activity across the state, potential for large fires and the increased commitment of state and local resources to fires.

Suppression efforts in the Borrega Fire

Suppression efforts in the Borrega Fire (Nueces County ESD 2- Flour Bluff Fire VFD)

Level 5 is the highest level of wildland fire activity and indicates heavy resource commitment to fires locally.

The levels are dictated by fuel and weather conditions.

"The decision to move to a Preparedness Level 4 indicates that the complexity of wildfires across Texas is increasing to where they require more time, personnel and equipment to contain," Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief, said.

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All prescribed fires conducted and lead by Texas A&M Forest Service have been postponed until conditions improve.

The service noted that state, federal and local fire resources have responded to 192 wildfires burning 173,559 acres over the past week.