California wildfires a painful reminder for North Texans as conditions worsen

Dry conditions have firefighters on alert

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The devastating wildfires scorching southern California are serving as a daily reminder of devastation for some North Texans that live in Fort Worth and to the west.

Six years ago, more than 130,000 acres were burned in Parker and Palo Pinto Counties, especially around Possum Kingdom Lake.

"The emotions are hard to describe," says Peggy Rittenhouse. "It was kind of like being on the moon. There was nothing left but rocks."

The Rittenhouse family lost their second home on the lake that fateful day in 2011. Roughly 200 other homes were damaged.

The Rittenhouse's rebuilt, but the emotions took a toll. Now that the area is again experiencing very dry conditions, it's hard not to think about "what if."

"It kind of gives you feelings of your mortality," said Rittenhouse.

On Wednesday, Denton County officials issued a burn ban.

Other counties are expected to follow suit, with Tarrant County looking at an announcement next week.

"That's kind of our concern, what we have on our hands," says Tarrant County Fire Marshal Randy Renois.

The longtime firefighter showed WFAA data from the National Interagency Fire Center that indicates come January, North Texas and Oklahoma will join southern California as the country's potential wildfire hotspots.

"We're probably about double the vegetation because of the rains, but now that it's all dead we've got twice the fire load," said Renois.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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