Corpus Christi, Texas, USA — A controlled burn in the King Ranch on Wednesday afternoon turned into a wildfire as the day wore on, fueled by strong wind and low humidity, officials said.
As of Wednesday night, the fires had been controlled and there was no risk to Corpus Christi. The Texas Forest Service and Texas Department of Public Safety were the primary agencies monitoring the fires.
Dozens of Corpus Christi residents reported fires on Padre Island after seeing smoke that drifted from two large controlled burns at the King Ranch, said Corpus Christi Assistant Fire Chief Andrew Cardiel. The smoke, which could be seen near downtown Corpus Christi and throughout the city, appeared to be coming from the island because of the wind.
“We got a lot of calls starting about noon from people who insisted the island was on fire,” he said. “After checking it out, we realized the King Ranch was having a controlled burn.”
Kleberg County Fire Chief Ronald Pray said ranch officials notified him Wednesday morning that they would be burning two areas, one near Corpus Christi and another closer to Kingsville. Pray said ranch officials regularly conduct burns to control high brush.
“It wasn’t anything accidental,” he said. “It was planned.”
A King Ranch official confirmed the smoke was from controlled burns on ranch land, but could not give specifics about when the fire started, how long it will last or how many acres were burned.
Daniel Morales, the ranch’s financial controller, said the burning is an annual event done just before spring for agricultural purposes.
Pray and Morales said weather conditions, including wind and moisture levels, are monitored by ranch officials and fire officials are notified of the burning.
The weather also aided a fire in Robstown that began about 12:30 p.m. and destroyed a cabin and burned a quarter of an acre. It wasn’t clear Wednesday night what caused that fire.