Crews describe process of fighting 40-acre fire, offer tips for prevention


ABILENE, Texas (KRBC/KTAB) – Crews responded to a call just before 5 p.m. Sunday after a fire had broken out next to the Abilene Police Department impound lot. As crews arrived, they knew additional backup would be required, thanks to calls from concerned citizens.

“People kept calling 911 and saying, ‘I see one a little bit farther east than the one they are responding to,’ and that gave us a huge heads up to know there were multiple fires in the area, and that probably saved a lot of structures,” said Elise Roberts, Public Information Specialist for the Abilene Fire Department (AFD).

It took 50 Abilene firefighters, the Texas A&M Forest Services, Metrocare and seven volunteer fire departments to fight the fire, which stretched from both sides of Loop 322 near East Highway 80.

“We responded out to the fire and then our local group, Callahan County group, we all formed a strike team,” said Charlie Dawson, Eula Volunteer Fire Department Chief.

As windy weather conditions pushed the fire, each department took to what they knew best.

“Abilene is set up with their aerials and hooking into the water supplies, and we got these military six by sixes, and we take the fight right to the fire and we get to it,” Dawson said.

The Texas A&M Forest Services brought in their bulldozers to cut fire breaks.

“Getting down to bare soil, ideally with no vegetation there, nothing that can burn,” said Tyler Brown, Wildland Urban Interface Specialist for Texas A&M Forest Services.

The weather and terrain were not the only problems they dealt with, but also the dozens of cars that stopped to watch.

“Coming in and out of these different properties from one driveway to another, and just trying to avoid all that traffic coming out of the thick smoke, and watching for traffic, and just all the cars, and they were even stopped in the way. You would have to honk at them to get them to move,” said Dawson.

Fire crews continued to monitor the area into Sunday night and Monday morning.

Firefighters want to remind you that 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by people. They say people need to make sure to be careful not to spark anything when using any type of machinery or dragging chains, throw away your cigarettes in the right place, and from the home standpoint, keep your grass short, keep vegetation away from your house, and keep your trees trimmed up.

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