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Drought conditions persist, high wind gusts fuel fireDrought conditions persist, high wind gusts fuel fire

Abnormal dryness or drought are currently affecting approximately 17,228,000 people in Texas, which is about 69 percent of the state's population.

Shelley E. Huguley

February 25, 2018

16 Slides

Drought conditions coupled with wind gusts ranging from 24 mph to 50 mph fueled a grass fire east of Olton along Highway 70, Saturday afternoon. The relative humidity was 14 percent, according to the West Texas Mesonet. The fire was sparked by a hot exhaust pipe on a burr truck at Ag Producers Co-op Gin, according to gin manager Chris Williams. 

Volunteer fire departments from Olton, Springlake-Earth and Halfway worked together to stifle the blaze. The Olton Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Nazareth's Sheriff's department assisted as well, managing traffic as smoke billowed across the highway at times reducing visibility. 

A Red Flag Warning was issued for the extreme southwestern Panhandle and western and central South Plains, including Olton, while elevated fire weather conditions on the Rolling Plains persisted, according to the NOAA National Weather Service. With winds forecast throughout the week, conditions are expected to continue. 

The fire was contained and Williams reports no damage was caused to the gin or the cotton remaining on the gin yard. 

Abnormal dryness or drought are currently affecting approximately 17,228,000 people in Texas, which is about 69 percent of the state's population, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System website, https://www.drought.gov/drought/states/texas.





About the Author(s)

Shelley E. Huguley

Editor, Southwest Farm Press

Shelley Huguley has been involved in agriculture for the last 25 years. She began her career in agricultural communications at the Texas Forest Service West Texas Nursery in Lubbock, where she developed and produced the Windbreak Quarterly, a newspaper about windbreak trees and their benefit to wildlife, production agriculture and livestock operations. While with the Forest Service she also served as an information officer and team leader on fires during the 1998 fire season and later produced the Firebrands newsletter that was distributed quarterly throughout Texas to Volunteer Fire Departments. Her most personal involvement in agriculture also came in 1998, when she married the love of her life and cotton farmer Preston Huguley of Olton, Texas. As a farmwife she knows first-hand the ups and downs of farming, the endless decisions that have to be made each season based on “if” it rains, “if” the drought continues, “if” the market holds. She is the bookkeeper for their family farming operation and cherishes moments on the farm such as taking harvest meals to the field or starting a sprinkler in the summer with the whole family lending a hand. Shelley has also freelanced for agricultural companies such as Olton CO-OP Gin, producing the newsletter Cotton Connections while also designing marketing materials to promote the gin. She has published articles in agricultural publications such as Southwest Farm Press while also volunteering her marketing and writing skills to non-profit organizations such a Refuge Services, an equine-assisted therapy group in Lubbock. She and her husband reside in Olton with their three children Breely, Brennon and HalleeKate.

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