Fire crews in Archer County are counting their blessings. Despite 50Mph+ wind gusts, a series of fortunate circumstances allowed them to get a handle on a wild fire.
The blaze started near HWY 79 and T-Bone Road around 11AM. It started with a single spark from a drilling rig. "They were re-drilling a hole and the exhaust on the pump kicked out a little piece of carbon that ignited the fire," said Archer County Emergency Manager Kelly DeSautel.
The fire quickly spread through a mesquite thicket. By the chance of luck, the fire was moving towards a short-grass pasture. Around the perimeter was a dirt road. Those two things saved the day. "Thank God it was sustainable with the 2 access roads that we have here in the front and in the east of this field it kept it kind of small and easy to maintain," said DeSautel.
Crews from 5 different Departments were joined by the "Bulldozer Brigade" Task Force from the Texas Forest Service. TFS Regional Fire Coordinator Cody Rattan was also on-scene. Rattan, based in Archer City, manages crews from TFS. DeSautel says the TFS bulldozers play a critical role in stopping wildfire. "They create a fire break for us, basically they put their blade down on the ground they dig anywhere from and 8 to 10 foot wide blade, nothing but a dirt path, something that is usually drive-able to stop the fire from progressing from where it was originally started," said DeSautel.
The fire comes the same day US Drought Monitor released staggering information about the State of Texas. 43% of the state is considered to be in the extreme drought category. That is up from just 13% a month ago. The dry weather compounds the fire danger. "Its kind of hard to fight a fire with winds and weather and vegetation as it is right now because its very unpredictable as what that fire is going to do," said DeSautel.
10 homes were considered threatened by the fire. No homes were damaged. DeSautel is just happy things didn't get out of hand. "The winds, averaging 20-30 miles per hour with gusts as high as 50 mph would have created a problem for us - if it had jumped any of those roads it would have created a problem for us, we would have been fighting it to the south and east of us," he said.