Wildfires: Eastland Complex 70% contained; volunteer fire departments need donations

Laura Gutschke
Abilene Reporter-News

The wildfires in Eastland and Brown counties — the Eastland Complex fires — did not grow between Wednesday and Thursday, with cloud cover helping to reduce the threat of fire spreading.

An aerial view of the Big L fire that burned more than 11,000 acres in Hood and Erath counties. The fire was reported as 100% contained as of late Monday.

"Last night we had an IR (infrared flight) go over and showed minimal heat along the lines," said Adam Turner, Texas A&M Forest Service wildland urban interface coordinator.

The seven fires in the Eastland Complex have burned 54,463 acres and were 70% contained as of Thursday morning, according to the Forest Service.

The Big L Ranch fire, which burned nearly 11,000 acres along the Hood and Erath county line, was reported as 90% contained as of Thursday morning by the Lone Star State Incident Management Team of the Texas A&M Forest Service.

A fire suppression helicopter with the Texas A&M Forest Service dumps retardant on a portion of the Eastland Complex Fire, which is made up of seven different fires burning in that region.

The fire made it to Star Hollow Road south of Lipan where firefighters were able to stop its spread, according to information from the Granbury Volunteer Fire Department.

Crews were patrolling fire lines and searching for any heat sources that are around the containment lines.

Smoke production was expected to increase later in the week because of slightly higher temperatures, winds and lower humidity. And, the risk of new wildfires remains, Turner said, especially west of U.S. Highway 281. 

Active fires

– Eastland Complex, Eastland County - est. 54,463 acres, 70% contained as of Thursday morning. The complex consists of seven fires that are being managed together:

• Kidd Fire, Eastland County (42,333 acres, 45% contained)

• Blowing Basin Fire, Eastland County (258 acres, 60% contained)

• Cedar Mountain Fire, Eastland County (179 acres, 40% contained)

• Oak Mott Fire, Brown County (4,031 acres, 80% contained)

• Wheat Field Fire, Eastland County (7,268 acres, 60% contained)

• Mangum Fire, Eastland County (est. 11 acres, 95% contained)

• Walling Fire, Eastland County (383 acres, 100% contained)

– Crews Gap Fire, Runnels County - est. 8,100 acres, 95% contained

– Big L Fire, Erath/Hood County - 10,177 acres, 85% contained

– Rifle Club Fire, Reeves County - 106 acres, 95% contained

– Ramsey Fire, Brown County - est. 1,800 acres, 60% contained

– Irvin Fire, La Salle County - est. 100 acres, 90% contained

A burned vehicle is shown at a residence near Bluff Dale, where the Big L fire burned more than 11,000 acres and displaced five families.

Volunteer FDs need donations

The Eastland Volunteer Fire Department is down to one brush truck after the breakdown of their its second truck fighting recent wildfires.

"During the recent Eastland Complex fires, one of our brush trucks experienced multiple mechanical breakdowns, which required it to leave the fire line repeatedly and rendered it useless for fire suppression or home protection. More importantly, these breakdowns compromised firefighter safety and put firefighters in jeopardy," Eastland VFD posted on Facebook Tuesday. 

The loss of the $150,000 brush truck is an example of how recent fire outbreaks have taken a toll on the equipment and operating budgets of area volunteer fire departments. 

The Rising Star VFD is working to repair or replace the front end and two pumps on a brush truck, according to a Facebook post. The volunteers have responded to a record number of fires in February and March. 

North Lake Brownwood VFD set up a GoFundMe campaign to replace the truck's tires and battery and repair its pumps and to pay for fuel and other operating expenses to respond to future fires.

There are eight volunteer fire departments in Eastland County and another 10 in Brown County, according to the Forest Service database. (Cisco, Eastland, Ranger and Early VFDs operate with a combination of paid and volunteer crews.)

Following are the mailing addresses for the VFDs in Eastland and Brown counties to send donations. Some of the VFDs have set up Venmo accounts for electronic donations. 

Eastland County VFDs

• Carbon VFD, 101 Canal St., Carbon, Texas 76435. Facebook: @carbonvfd. 

• Cisco Fire Department, 411 Conrad Hilton Blvd., Cisco, TX 76437. ciscofd.com. 

• Desdemona VFD, 8600 State Highway 16, Desdemona, TX 76445.  Facebook: @DesdemonaVFD.  

• Eastland VFD, 414 S. Seaman St., Eastland, TX 76448. eastlandfire.com. Facebook: Eastland Fire Department. 

• Gorman FVD, 101 Upton St., Gorman, TX 76454. Venmo: Gorman VFD. 

• Olden VFD, 450 Farm to Market 3363, Olden, TX 76466. 

• Ranger VFD, 500 Loop 254, Ranger, TX 76470. Facebook:

@rangervolunteerfiredept. Venmo: Ranger Volunteer Fire Department. 

• Rising Star VFD, 127 N. Main St., Rising Star, TX 76471. Facebook: Rising Star Fire Department.