by: Taylor Girtman
AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Airtanker Base is now activated for faster wildfire response times and better cost efficiency for Texas wildfires, a release from the governor’s office said.
Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that he directed the Texas A&M Forest Service to open the base to help local and state wildfire responders ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The base will serve as a reload station for aircraft, including aircraft that drop fire retardant during wildfires. This will supplement the airtanker base in Abilene.
The airtanker base at Austin-Bergstron International Airport is the only airport in the state set up for a “Very Large Airtanker, or DC-10,” the governor’s release said.
The Austin base will be manned by personnel from the Texas A&M Forest Service, the US Forest Service and the Austin Fire Department.
Abbott also added 10 counties to the state’s wildfire disaster declaration for a total of 216 counties.
More than 3,500 acres have burned in wildfires across Central Texas so far this year, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. A total of 48 fires have burned 3,594 acres in the 15-county KXAN viewing area, as of Sept. 1.