Two separate wildfires fanned by high winds burned hundreds of acres and threatened homes, property and livestock in Somervell County on Friday and into Saturday.
A massive blaze that began in Bosque County Friday afternoon jumped County Road 2007 into Somervell County and headed north, while a brush fire on FM 202 that was thought to be contained continued to burn as darkness fell.
Dozens of residents in The Oaks development and Hill Country Estates along FM 202, as well as property owners along CR 2007, were evacuated and waiting official clearance to return to their homes.
About 18 people reported in to the American Red Cross shelter set up at Glen Rose High School. But they arranged to stay with family and friends Friday night rather than sleep at the school. First Baptist Church also opened its doors and prepared to cook a meal and offer shelter to those who needed it.
One firefighter from Bosque County was injured and treated at Glen Rose Medical Center, but he was later released.
Emergency medical crews and firefighters remained on high alert Friday night as the fires smoldered and smoke continued to obscure visibility in the county’s southern half.
County Ford Mike Ford emerged from a “lockdown” in the Emergency Office of Command set up at the Somervell County Sheriff’s Office to give a status report of the crisis situation. Both Justices of the Peace, county commissioners, Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Martin, City Superintendent Ronald Bruce, Glen Rose Medical Center Chief Executive Gary Marks and Glen Rose ISD Superintendent Wayne Rotan were kept in the loop about the fires’ status so they could respond.
County Commissioner John Curtis, whose precinct includes the area where the fires burned, was out on the scene throughout the afternoon dispatching updates to the command center. He and this reporter watched as the fire raced toward Somervell County and jumped CR 2007.
“Close to 100 homes remain in jeopardy” in The Oaks and Hill Country Estates and along CR 2007, Ford said. So far, though, no structures had been destroyed. The FM 202 had surrounded a home, but firefighters, aided by a Texas Forest Service helicopter that carried water from a stock pond across the road and dumped it from the air, saved it.
The situation grew tense and emotional as Somervell County Sheriff’s Office deputies closed CR 2007 and residents who were trying to retrieve cars belongings were turned back.
“We’ve got to get our car,” one resident told a deputy.
“I’m sorry, sir, I can’t let you in,” the deputy responded. “They’re evacuating everyone now on 2007.”
A teenage girl cried as she and her mother tried to arrange to get her horse out of the area. They were waiting on friends to bring a trailer as the smoke filled The Oaks.
The first call about the fires came in around 1:15 p.m. Ford declared a local emergency, which puts the county in position to qualify for grants and state assistance. The Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Forest Service quickly responded, as well as fire departments from Somervell and Bosque counties, Walnut Springs, Brazos Point, Whitney, Peoria and Clifton. Hood County sent an ambulance. Air Evac took up some fire officials to do some fire spotting as well.
Ford said the cause of the fires remain under investigation. He estimated that 400 to 500 acres had burned. Ironically, Forest Service officials had appeared before the Somervell County Commissioners Court just two weeks ago to warn of the high dangers of fires because of the abundance of dry wood, low humidity and likelihood of high winds. The commissioners ordered a 90-day burn ban.
Please continue to check the Reporter’s Web site for continued updates throughout the weekend.