Breckenridge Texan

Fire shuts down U.S. Highway 180 between Breckenridge and Palo Pinto

Fire shuts down U.S. Highway 180 between Breckenridge and Palo Pinto
July 04
22:15 2018

A large wildfire burning in Palo Pinto County has forced the shut down of U.S. Highway 180 at the intersection with State Highway 16 South again on Wednesday afternoon. Traffic going east must detour south through Strawn.

Coming from the east, the highway is shut down a little more than a mile west of FM 4 outside of the city of Palo Pinto.

Firefighters have been battling the 101 Mercer Ranch Road fire, just north of U.S. Highway 180, since Monday. While they were fighting that fire, a second fire, dubbed the Surprise fire, started just east of the original fire. The fires had forced the closure of U.S. 180 earlier in the week, as well.

The 101 Mercer Ranch Road fire is considered 95 percent contained and reportedly burned 51 acres. However, the Surprise fire is only 40 percent contained and has burned between 3,000 and 4,000 acres.

According to a video on the Mineral Wells Index website, Texas A&M Forest Service Public Information Officer Victoria Cruz said the flames started to kick up again about 3:30 this afternoon. She said the fire was likely started by a lightning strike on Sunday.

The Texas A & M Forest Service has fire engines, bulldozers, heavy air tankers and single engine aircraft battling the fire, Cruz said. The topography in the area makes the fight difficult, but no structures or lives have been lost, she confirmed.

When the wind switched from the southeast to blowing from the east this afternoon, the smoke from Palo Pinto County started drifting into Stephens County. Breckenridge Fire Chief/Marshal Calvin Chaney confirmed on Facebook Wednesday evening, July 4, that the smoke local residents are seeing and smelling is from Palo Pinto, not from Stephens County. He said similar winds are expected through 1 a.m.

For more information on road closures, visit the Texas Department of Transportation website by clicking here. From the drop down menus, choose “US 180” for the Texas Roadway, “Palo Pinto” for the Texas County, and “Other” for the Condition. Then, click the “Submit” button.

For more information on the 101 Mercer Ranch Road fire and the Surprise fire, click here go to the Forest Service’s Texas Wildfire Incident Response System. Zoom in and click on the Palo Pinto area fires.


Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Texas Department of Transportation employees talk with a motorist Wednesday evening, July 4, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 180 and State Highway 16 South as smoke billows over the horizon to the east. The road was closed due to the Surprise fire in Palo Pinto County. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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