Two firefighters hurt battling blaze

Two firefighters hurt battling blaze

28 March 2008

published by

USA — A grassfire sparked by a welder’s flame consumed more than 30 acres early Thursday afternoon, with two firefighters reported injured.

Santo Volunteer Fire Department Public Information Officer Brian Gordon told the Index they were notified about a grassfire north of Farm-to-Market Road 2201 and west of U.S. Highway 281 South.

“The wildland fire started about 11:30 a.m. by a welding crew on the Hall Ranch,” he reported.

The welding crew, Gordon explained, were building a fence. They reportedly didn’t have any water or fire protection at the site.

Since the burn ban was lifted, spotters, water and other fire retardants aren’t required to be at the site while welding.

Approximately 40 personnel from the Texas Forest Service, Santo VFD, Brazos VFD, Gordon VFD, Lone Camp VFD and Mineral Wells VFD responded to the scene. Using a variety of firefighting methods such as firebreaks, back burning and water, they extinguished the fire.

“It was a well-coordinated effort,” Gordon praised. He reported 39 acres were burned. At approximately 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, he said there were a couple of units still at the scene mopping up the area.

Gordon reported two injuries – one firefighter with a cut head while another sustained a back injury. That firefighter was transported by Santo’s ambulance to Palo Pinto General Hospital.

Mineral Wells VFD Chief Steve Perdue added they received aerial assistance from the civil air patrol, which provided information about fire movement from a bird’s-eye view.

Perdue reported another fire early Wednesday morning, at approximately 5:30 a.m., when a cigarette ignited the porch of a residence on Farm-to-Market Road 1195. The fire “didn’t burn much” of the singlewide trailer, he noted.

Ten minutes after 6 a.m. Wednesday, Santo firefighters were called to FM 2201 when a 1985 GMC van caught fire. The driver reportedly noticed smoke coming from under her dashboard. When she pulled over to investigate, the smoke became flames, according to the Santo VFD Web site.

When Santo firefighters arrived on scene, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper and a fellow passerby had knocked down the fire using portable fire extinguishers.

A previous grassfire earlier in the week ignited a portion of roadway on U.S. Highway 281 near Austin Lane north of Mineral Wells. Perdue reported the fire began at approximately 4:30 p.m. from a cigarette butt tossed along the roadside.

Although they cleared the scene approximately 15 minutes later, Perdue said two acres of a coastal field were burned. Firefighters from Mineral Wells, Perrin, Adell-Whitt and a representative of TFS were present.

According to a press release issued Wednesday by the TFS, “the combination of dry air and moderate winds will continue to promote an increased risk of grass fires. Extreme caution is urged during all outside activities where there is a potential for grass fire to get started.

“Avoid outside burning and welding. Do not toss lit cigarette butts outside. Report wildfires to the nearest fire department or law enforcement office quickly.”

Perdue encouraged residents who are doing controlled burns to let law enforcement know, as members of the civil air patrol fly to areas where they see smoke.

To ensure the best utilization of resources, he said, “It’s imperative that people with controlled burns call it in. These folks see smoke, they’re going to it.”

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