TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene City Councilmember gave an update Friday, to the Mesquite Heat fire, burning southwest of Abilene. Councilmember Weldon Hurt said a shift in wind expected Saturday could change things for first responders and area residents.

In a Facebook Live, Councilmember Hurt said he attended a Friday morning meeting, where it was announced that a task force from the State of Texas was formed to coordinate efforts with the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The main update the councilmember gave; the fire remained 25% contained at just a little larger than 9,600 acres as of Friday morning.

While volunteer fire departments from around the Big Country work together around the clock to contain and ultimately extinguish the fire, the area is expecting a cold front Saturday.

“With the weather conditions, the way they are, these are horrible conditions when it comes to fire,” said Councilmember Hurt.

A cold front, predicted to come in Saturday morning, is expected to shift winds in another direction.

Councilmember Hurt said ‘several structures’ have been lost to the wildfire, and encouraged area residents to be prepared to evacuate and have an evacuation plan in place.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a Fire Evacuation Check List. Some of the most important bullet points being:

  • At least 1/2 tank of gas in vehicle
  • Kennels and leashes for pets
  • Have an evacuation buddy to help you, especially if you have livestock
  • House and car keys
  • Wallet with ID
  • Medication
  • One irreplaceable item
  • Cell phones

What to pack ahead of go-time:

  • Very important files (i.e.: homeowner papers, IDs, etc.) uploaded to a USB drive
  • Important photos, preferably uploaded to a USB drive
  • Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Camping-type gear (blankets, pillows, flashlight)
  • Phone charger
  • Power bank

Don’t forget, most items can be replaced and the Big Country community is incredibly generous. It’s like they say, “things can be replaced, lives can’t!”

Councilmember Hurt said if you don’t need to be in the area or live in the area, stay away.

American Electric Power (AEP) and Taylor Electric Cooperative (Taylor Co-op) are working to return power to some areas where evacuation orders were lifted. But while fire crews work with hot lines in the wind, Councilmember Hurt said they don’t need any ‘sightseers.’

For the areas reopened to residents only, officials are checking IDs to confirm addresses.