Fire burns at least 100 acres, threatens East Caney homes
Some residents evacuated; state forest service called in
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Scorched earth and little else remains in some areas near East Caney community following a wildfire Friday afternoon. Texas Forest Service was called in Friday to assist in the fire fight being conducted by Hopkins County, Sulphur Springs and at least seven volunteer fire departments. Approximately 100 acres of woodland burned, and half a dozen East Caney residents were temporarily relocated from their homes for several hours Friday evening.
Staff Photo By Faith Huffman

Sept. 25, 2005 -- Texas Forest Service was called in Friday afternoon to help battle a fire which burned at least 100 acres of woodland in East Caney community.

At least half a dozen residents  were temporarily evacuated from their homes as a precaution due to the shifting winds and proximity of the fire to their residences.

The fire was called in to local authorities around noon Friday by a resident who saw smoke. When fire crews began arriving in the area, it became apparent the fire had spread to the wooded area between County Roads 3341 and 3344. The fire continued spreading at a fast pace, with additional fire crews being called in through out the afternoon and into the evening hours.

It was a frustrating battle for firefighters, who would begin to get a handle on the fire, protecting trees and wooded areas near residences, when the wind would shift, causing the fire to once again gain distance and spread through the parched vegetation. 

Texas Forest Service was called in at 1 p.m. to assist in fighting the fire, bringing plows and bulldozer equipment to dig trenches around the area to stymie a spread beyond the wooded area.

By evening, every volunteer fire department on the east side of Hopkins County  -- Saltillo, Pickton-Pine Forest, Sulphur Bluff, Dike, Brinker, Como -- were out with brush trucks and tankers to refuel the trucks, working alongside Hopkins County firemen, according to fire reports.

When winds picked up later in the day, North Hopkins and Sulphur Springs firefighters were also called in to assist. Hopkins County Emergency Medical Services also sent an ambulance and crew to stage at East Caney Baptist Church throughout the evening Friday in case anyone was injured or firefighter became too fatigued in the dense smoke and heat.

Firefighters were stationed near roads, residences and other structures until about 8 p.m. Friday. Texas Forest Service continued working in the woods with their equipment in areas inaccessible to fire trucks. Sulphur Springs firefighters also assisted Arbala, Miller Grove and Cumby firemen in taking calls that Hopkins County firemen were unable to respond to while tied up at the woodlands fire.

While firefighters worked, as many as half a dozen East Caney residents were evacuated from their homes. The residents stayed in the air conditioned fire station in Brinker until they were advised it was safe to return to their homes just before 8 p.m. Friday There were no reports of injuries.

Friday marked at least the second time in the last week that Texas Forest Service and Sulphur Springs firefighters have been contacted to assist county firefighters with grass or woodlands fires, caused by extreme drought conditions.

Hopkins County, Tira, North Hopkins, Sulphur Bluff and Brinker firefighters battled a large, rapidly spreading grass fire on County Roads 4759 and 4762 near Pleasant Grove estates Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters worked quickly and called for more support, including mutual aid from Sulphur Springs firefighters, and put the forestry service on standby when several structures became threatened. The fire was almost extinguished when wind blew it the opposite direction, causing it to spread and rekindle.

One man sustained minor burns as a result of the grass fire which claimed an estimated 80 acres Sunday.

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