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2011-09-22

Fire Burns 75-100 Acres in West Bandera County

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

A Texas Forest Service (TFS) airplane flying surveillance to check for fires started by lightning strikes unfortunately struck pay dirt around 3:45 pm Monday, Sept. 19.

While flying over the western end of Bandera County, the pilot spotted what appeared to be a 5 to 6-acre blaze between North Mill Creek Road and Allsup Trail 10 to 15 miles due east of Lost Maples State Natural Area.

A storm front moving through the area Sunday evening released a lot of lightning strikes. Due to continuing exceptional drought conditions throughout most of Texas, the TFS has men and equipment staged in various locations, including Fredericksburg.

The plane was checking the area when smoke was spotted.

Within minutes of the call coming in to Bandera County Sheriff's Office dispatch, several local volunteer fire departments had their equipment on the road.

Among the first to respond were Medina VFD and Vanderpool VFD. Other departments who eventually assisted included Tarpley VFD, Medina Lake VFD, Castle Lake VFD and Utopia VFD, reported County Fire Marshal John Stith.

Shane Keese, Medina VFD fire chief, and Precinct 2 Commissioner Doug King of Vanderpool VFD served as incident commanders for the fire.

"It was great to see everybody working together and cooperating in this fire," said King.

The county's volunteer fire departments have mutual aid agreements with each other promising assistance when needed.

"The fire was 100 percent contained by 10 pm," Stith said.

The blaze expanded to cover around 75-100 acres before being brought under control.

"The forest service did four air drops for us and brought in four trucks from Fredericksburg to assist.
There were also 21 men in the hotshot crew from California they brought over," said Stith.

"The air drops helped tremendously," said King. "We didn't want another fire like those in East Texas."

No houses or people were threatened by the fire.

In addition to about 100 firefighters on the ground, Bandera County EMS was also on site.

No injuries were reported.

Bandera County also assisted by providing fuel.