Texas House wildfire committee to hold hearing in Pampa


AUSTIN (KXAN) — About a month following the largest wildfires in Texas history, a special House committee tasked with investigating the cause of the wildfires will hold a three-day hearing in Pampa, Texas.

Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) spoke to KXAN on why it was important for the hearing to be held in Pampa.

“Let’s just start with why we’re doing it in Pampa versus doing it in Austin,” he said. “This didn’t happen in Austin. This happened here. And it’s happened over and over and over.”

Lawmakers are taking a closer look at prevention and preparedness in the aftermath of the loss of over 1 million acres of land, including a portion of King’s.

“It’s unfortunate that a disaster like this brings this kind of community support, but watching my friends and neighbors all come together and work for total recovery for everyone has been something that will never leave my mind or my heart,” said King.

His committee will hear from first responders, landowners and other stakeholders with topics surrounding fire mitigation and firebreaks.

Additionally, they will hear from Xcel Energy on ways to move forward after the company acknowledged its facilities, “appear to have been involved in an ignition of the Smokehouse Creek fire.”

King said a big part of their focus will remain on making sure there are resources to control and respond fast enough.

However, he emphasized that this it can’t be delayed any further.

“If we don’t start now we’re not going to get anything done in the next legislative session,” King said. “This problem is too complex to fix in 140 days session.”

The committee will hear from invited testimony Tuesday and Wednesday only in Pampa, and then they will open it up for public testimony Thursday. The public can attend all three days of the hearing.