One blaze destroyed 117 acres over a 3-day period ending Thursday on Flamingo Road between Gilmer and Longview, said Juan Merriweather of the Texas Forest Service. Another fire Friday afternoon consumed the apparently vacant houses in Camp Joy, said Ore City Fire Chief Gaston (Bubba) DeBerry III.
On Saturday afternoon, a Gilmer firefighter received a leg injury while battling yet another blaze which burned a few acres just off south Texas Hwy. 155 near city limits, said Gilmer Firefighter Phillip Wilburn. Wilburn said that fire occurred behind his home on Golf Road in the Country Club Estates..
The fire on Flamingo Road, battled by several area fire departments, is believed to have resulted from a power line, but could have started from a lighting strike, Merriweather said Monday. He said the cause remained under investigation.
The identity of the burned acreage's owner or owners was not immediately available.
Joining the Forest Service in responding to that fire were Gilmer, East Mountain, West Mountain, and Glenwood Fire Departments, said Gilmer Firefighter Sammy Long.
Friday's blaze was paged to firefighters at 2:14 p.m. as a "rekindle of a woods fire," said DeBerry, who said his department had been to a small grass fire caused by burning the prior Tuesday. When fire trucks arrived on the scene on Janis St. on Friday, he said, one of the frame houses was fully involved in flames, with the roof falling in, and the other's attic was heavily ablaze.
The houses, which burned to the ground, were fewer than 15 feet apart, and firefighters from the six area departments which responded to the scene concentrated on cooling down the blazes in them in order to successfully save three other nearby homes, DeBerry said. He said the other departments' mutual aid of the Ore City Fire Dept. was vital to successfully fighting that blaze, and that the Forest Service is investigating its origin.
In addition, said DeBerry, Champion EMS ambulance service remained at the scene six hours and was "very valuable in keeping the firefighters going" in the more-than-100-degree heat. He said none were injured as the ambulance service prevented them from becoming overheated and checked their blood pressure.
The homes were unoccupied "as far as we know," said DeBerry. A Longview resident is believed to have owned one, while a Shreveport resident is thought to have owned the other, he said.
Firefighters spent probably 7-8 hours fighting the blaze and cooling down the area, said DeBerry. Departments which joined Ore City included New Diana, New Mountain, Gilmer, Mims, and Lone Star, he said.
During Saturday's woods and pasture fire, about a mile south of Gilmer, Firefighter Billy Joe Williams received the leg injury when he impaled himself on a fire rake, Wilburn said. Williams will be off work for about two weeks, said Wilburn.
That blaze, reported about 12:20 p.m., resulted when a tree fell onto and snapped a 69,000-volt transmission line, Wilburn said. He said two individuals owned the burned property, but he was unsure of their full names.
Wilburn said he thought the Forest Service said 3-4 acres were burned.
Hwy. 155 was closed for about 45 minutes due to smoke, he said. Meantime, Pritchett volunteer firefighters joined the Gilmer Fire Dept. in battling the blaze for 2 1/2 hours, and the East Mountain Volunteer Fire Dept. covered the Gilmer fire station during that period, said Wilburn.
He said the blaze was "across the pasture" from the rear of his home, and came within 200 yards of it, but that no houses were endangered..
Meantime, Upshur County Commissioners Court is scheduled to consider continuing Fowler's burn ban at the court's regular semi-monthly meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday. Violating it is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
In the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map, the majority of Upshur County is classified as being in the next to worst possible category of "Extreme Drought":
The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.