Dozers Plow a Path to Reach Flames In Clay County

Exhausted fire crews are struggling on the frontline's as fires continue to break out throughout Texoma.

Clay County fire departments have been getting a fair share of fire calls daily. Volunteer fire departments knocked out a blaze Wednesday, the third in Clay County just this week.

Billy Carlton with the Henrietta Volunteer Fire Department says firefighters are getting worn out and the high temps are not helping.

Carlton says fire crews on scene are sometimes not getting the relief they need.

Volunteer fire departments are giving it their all battling flames in the heat without complaints because relief is sometimes not an option.

Billy Carlton says, "During a day like this on the volunteer fire department a lot of times we don't have any relief. We will have just enough guys to fight the fire and so they just have to buck up and make it work for them."

Billy Carlton says the Henrietta Volunteer Fire Department gets about three to four fire calls a day and crews are getting exhausted.

Carlton comments, "We have to keep a very close eye on the guys that are fighting the fire as well as driving those trucks. Every time they come out to fill up their tanks we have a medical team that checks those guys to make sure they are doing ok."

Just this Wednesday morning crews were at it again. A plume of smoke filled the air near highway 82 and F. M. 2332. This is the third fire this week in Clay County.

As of 11 a.m., Ringgold, Henrietta, Bellevue, and Nocona fire crews joined Clay County in the fire fight near the Montague County line.

Fire officials believe the blaze began around 10 a.m.  Officials also tell Newschannel 6 that flames were free-burning for nearly two hours in heavy brush, inaccessible to crews on foot. Clay County Memorial Hospital is on standby for any injuries that could come from this fire situation.

Crews waited on a dozer to get a line cut in order to get to the flames because it was in such heavy brush.

Carlton says despite having 11 trucks on scene crews are getting worn out. "And its beginning to take its toll. Some of these fire departments have older guys like myself. It is just getting tougher and tougher to stay out here in this heat."

And Carlton says if conditions do not get better soon crews and their equipment might not hold up.

Clay County officials say the fires are already starting to take a toll. One truck from Vashti has lost a clutch and a truck from Petrolia has a leak in a water truck.

Billy Carlton tells Newschannnel 6 that crews rely on stock tanks to help extinguish flames, but now that stock tanks are drying up that is one less water source to replenish supplies.

Kent Neville, Clay County Emergency Management Coordinator tells Newschannel 6 the fire near Highway 82 is contained.

He says the cause of the blaze was due to a bird landing on a power line that arked.

Kent Neville says Texas Forest Service already flew overhead and estimates 25 to 30 acres were burned.

Kent also mentioned the county has already turned to FEMA for reimbursements.

Natalie Garcia,  Newschannel 6