Cigarette causes Williamson County grass fire

Cigarette causes Williamson County grass fire

25 March 2008

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USA — Hot spots are still burning in a Williamson County grass fire, which began early Tuesday afternoon.

The area where the fire is smoldering is now surrounded by fire lines. The flames spread across 140 acres, fueled by grass so dry, one firefighter compared it to tissue paper.

Several fire departments fought the flames by air and by ground for hours.

“It was an accident,” said Charles McLoud, who lives in the area. “It was just strictly an accident.”

McLoud owns property where a seismographic crew worked Tuesday.

“They stopped to eat lunch and lit a cigarette down on the ground,” said Florence Fire Department’s assistant chief, Bobby Shelton. “It took off from there.”

With winds gusting around 30 miles an hour, McLoud lost some acreage – scary for someone who makes his living off the land.

“You have a lot of money tied up back there in the fields,” said McLoud.

A plane circled the area, searching for any livestock in danger. McLoud moved his cattle, then watched as a helicopter took water from his stock tank.

The helicopter “is going to a hot spot, and in three minutes he’s going to be back for another load,” said McLoud.

The sheriff shut down Highway 183 near County Road 236 for a while.

“If it had jumped this county road, with the fuel that’s over there and the open terrain, we could have easily [lost] another 300 or 400 acres,” said Assistant Chief Shelton.

Charles McLoud definitely feels lucky.

“It could have burned that country back there,” he said. “The wind was out of the southwest, and it carried [the fire] away from my property.”

Firefighters will return to the site Wednesday morning to check on the hot spots, which are expected to burn for a day or two.

No one else was injured in the fire

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