Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County firefighters battle wildfires sparked by dry conditions, fireworks

Stephens County firefighters battle wildfires sparked by dry conditions, fireworks
June 29
20:41 2020

Local firefighters responded to a wildfire Monday afternoon near the intersection of State Highway 67  and County Road 173 that burned between five and six acres.

Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney said the call came in around 3:30 p.m. and it took fire crews around an hour and a half to completely extinguish the blaze because of the wind. He said the fire started when a work crew was drilling holes in concrete and the exhaust from the generator they were using set nearby dry grass on fire.

Three Breckenridge fire trucks and a Hubbard Creek Volunteer Fire Department fire truck responded to call, and a ranch fire truck from the MT7 ranch assisted. Chaney said Stetson Deubler also brought a backhoe to the scene and assisted in fighting the fire.

Chaney said that because of the dry conditions in the area, fire crews have responded to several fires recently. He said they had several grass fires on Sunday about seven miles south of town that were started by people driving down the road shooting off Roman candle fireworks and setting the fires on purpose. Around the same time, he said, they had another fire on County Road 187 that was caused by a downed power line.

On Sunday night, around 11:30 p.m., fire crews responded to a fire at Corley boat ramp at Hubbard Creek Lake that was caused by fireworks.  He said fire fighters were on the scene of that fire until around 2 a.m. Monday morning.

Fire ban still in effect, fireworks not banned

There is still a burn ban in effect in Stephens County that prohibits burning brush; however, Chaney said it does not prohibit firing off fireworks. He said in order for a county to ban fireworks, it has to meet a certain moisture criteria set by the state. However, Chaney said fireworks cannot be set off on county roads, state highways, state property or Stephens County-owned property. Additionally, shooting fireworks from a vehicle is illegal, he said.

Chaney said if you are going to use fireworks, make sure you have water on hand and if something happens, call 911 immediately. He said, for example, when the grass fire on State Highway 67 was called in, the caller said, “‘It’s a real small fire, you ought to be able to get it with one truck.’ I said, ‘Well, we’re bringing three.’ And we ended up using five,” he said.

Chaney said although there is green grass in the area, there is dry grass under the green grass and it’s extremely dry. “When you start a fire with the exhaust on a generator, that’s showing that it’s extremely dry,” he said.

Hubbard Creek Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tom Claybrook sprays water on the flames of a grass fire on State Highway 67 near County Road 173 from a fire truck driven by volunteer firefighter Tony Smith. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: A Breckenridge firefighter sprays water from his truck on flames at a grass fire on State Highway 67 near County Road 173 on Monday afternoon.  

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