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Wildland fires putting strain on fire departments across Nueces County

Posted at 5:08 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 18:08:37-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — An uptick in wildland fires is putting a strain on fire departments throughout Nueces County.

Fire officials say the amount of fire calls they’ve responded to these past two months are more than what they usually expect this time of year. That’s taking a toll on their budget – with costs shifting to a higher amount; with the largest effect being on fuel and maintaining their trucks.

Bluntzer Fire Department says the amount of trucks and personnel from their department is just not enough to battle blazes, so they rely on mutual aid – support from other departments in the Coastal Bend.

“Once we leave the city, we also get covered by other agencies that are close by, so if we have another fire they’ll come and assist us,” said Robstown Fire Chief Javier Zapata.

Annaville Fire Chief, Michael Clack, says his department responded to a minimum of three calls a day last week alone – the majority happening at the same time, which takes a toll on his crew.

“When you’re having to call people in on their day off to try to help cover, it gets stressing on them. They need their time off and they need their time to recover and there hasn’t been a lot of that lately,” added Clack

While the department is managing to respond with the existing budget, that may change with fire activity on the rise.

“We anticipate either bad wild brush fire season or hurricanes so we have money in there if we get hit with both budgets this year, yeah we won’t make, we’ll have to dip deeper into our reserves,” said Clack.

Chief Clack said right now a portion of what they would normally set aside to budget for overtime during hurricanes is being used on wildland fires.