High alert tonight in East Texas by the Texas Forest Service. They say they’re nervous a fire may break out any moment, causing significant damage. Because of the drought conditions in East Texas, forest fires can burn for days, sometimes even weeks.
Yesterday, firefighters spotted a forest fire in Wood County just off Highway 154 near Rhonesboro. The fire destroyed 85 acres of land filled with Pine Trees. The Texas Forest Service says it has contained the fire, but tree stumps and logs continue to smolder out there in the heat.
“We’ve had fires scattered around all summer because of the hot weather,” said Ken Conaway, District Forester. “Lately the last three or four weeks we had several lightning fires.” The Texas Forest Service says it believes lightning started this fire in Wood County. It says it takes specific steps to stop fires from spreading.
“We have to go in and actually drive in through the trees, pushing them down to clear a dirt control line around the perimeter of the fire,” said Brian Hendrix, District Fire Coordinator. “That contains the fire.” The fire department cannot get close to the fire when it’s deep in the forest like this one. It takes a big bull dozer to do the job.
“The line is clear down to mineral soil,” said Conaway. “All the vegetation is dozed off of it, so the fire won’t burn across it.” Even after the line is dug around the fire the Texas Fire Service must continue to watch it. They say forest fires like this are hard to prevent, but land owners should be aware of the weather conditions.
“The main thing for land owners to realize is the dry conditions and make sure that they honor all county burn bans that are put into place,” said Hendrix. “And lets hope for rain.” Until more rain hits the Texas Fire Service says it will remain on the lookout for fires.