USA — Comanche County_A grass fire broke out near East 75th Street and Cortez Wednesday afternoon in Comanche County. A billowing plume of smoke may have caught your eye around lunch time. Firefighters who thought they would catch a break following yesterday’s showers and Wednesday’s relatively calm winds, found themselves once again trying to save homes and property.
The blaze surrounded a home and burned to East 90th Street where it hit what appeared to be a fire break. But, it wasn’t made by firefighters. A grader was used to turn soil for a new water line the county put in just a few weeks ago. It turned out to be a lucky break.
Flames were towering and smoke was everywhere, but it had been a power surge that gave neighbors their first inkling of what was happening. A transformer blew and sparks from the explosion flew to the dry grass, turning sparks to flames.
Flowermound Fire Chief Josh Sullivan says the overgrown land where two hot spots flared up is part of a government land conservation program. “You can’t graze it, you can’t swath it, you can’t plow it or anything,” he says. “You just got to let it grow – it’s native grass.”
Sullivan says some of the grass in the protected area is shoulder high, adding plenty of fuel to the fire even after a dose of rain the day before. “The problem with the rain we had was it was not enough to lay the grass down,” he says. “But it was enough to make the ground soft, so we’ve had some trucks go down on us in the mud.”
Despite the added difficulty, firefighters managed to surround one home that was in harm’s way. They saved a farm house, two barns, graineries, and a tractor. Sullivan says people are the fire department’s first priority. “Yes, we need to get the grass fire put out as soon as we can, but we need to try to protect homes…people’s lives.”
Compared to recent fires, this one was pretty small. It only burned about 160 acres. Still, there were intense moments for a lot of people in eastern Comanche County, especially for those who could see the fire and raced in the direction of the smoke to make sure their homes were safe.
After controlling the blaze, a couple of departments had to refill their water tankers and head to Chattanooga where there were more flames to be fought near Holliday and Airport Road. The blaze there was small and quickly contained.