Eastland wildfires bring the smell of smoke into Houston

Wildfires near Abilene wafted in from the northwest Friday morning.

Spring Fire Department / Twitter
A wildfire near Abilene was causing a smoke smell in Houston on Friday, March 18, 2022.

Smoke from wildfires near Abilene is blowing in to Houston, causing the smell wafting over the city Friday, weather officials said.

Gusts from the northwest chasing out this week’s cold front are driving in smoke from fires in Eastland County, where a number of wildfires are causing massive damage over 62 miles.

Air quality monitors are measuring high levels of particulate matter, putting air quality in an unhealthy range. The Houston Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management warned residents of smoke and ash in the area.

Forecasters expected the smoke to stick around the Houston area for most of Friday into the evening.

“We just had a frontal passage come through late last night, so all of that smoke is being pulled in,” said Amaryllis Cotto, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Houston. “Thanks to our northerly winds that we have in place for the area today, we’re going to keep seeing some of that kind of hazy skies, smoky skies for the rest of today and tonight.”

Cotto said the higher winds should taper off by Friday, which should help reduce the smoky conditions.

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
The Houston skyline near Washington Ave. on March 18, 2022. Winds blew in smoke from Eastland wildfires, near Abilene, in through Houston.

Wildfires stretching more than 40,000 acres were blazing in central Texas Friday morning, leading to closed roads, damaged property and evacuations. Many of the fires around Eastland have merged into what the Texas A&M Forest Service referred to as a “complex” in the region.

Erin O’Connor, a TAMFS spokesperson, told the Texas Standard this morning that the largest of the four fires is in Abilene, and is far from being contained.

“A lot of these fires are more rural, but they have severely impacted communities in the area,” she said.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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