By CLINT FOSTER
Palo Pinto County may have finally felt the refreshing fall of rain in various areas over the weekend, but that did not provide much relief from the looming danger of wildfires. A myriad of blazes from different causes burned throughout the county and in Mineral Wells from Friday to Monday.
The fires combined with still relatively dry conditions, led Palo Pinto County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell to request an extension on the county’s burn ban at the Palo Pinto County Commissioners Court meeting Monday morning.
The first of the fires came in the heat of Friday afternoon, around 4 p.m., in the heart of Mineral Wells. The Index was present as the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department and Harwell responded to a grass fire near the Baker Hotel’s swimming pool area, on the corner of Hubbard and NE 3rd.
Witnesses in the area said they heard a loud boom before the fire and Harwell said he believes kids were responsible.
The other major fire on Friday was the result of a lightning strike in the Hills Above Possum Kingdom. Harwell said he joined the Possum Kingdom East, Gordon, Palo Pinto and Lone Camp Volunteer Fire Departments in responding to the grass fire that threatened two homes.
Harwell explained that the roughly nine-acre fire was hard to get to in the hills, so it took a while to extinguish. Ultimately, the VFDs put out the fire with no injuries or damage to the threatened houses. However, the prolonged fire fight did throw a wrench in Harwell’s evening plans.
“I was wanting to go home right at 4:30, I had plans with my family,” he said. “I was fixin’ to head out and go home and that [Possum Kingdom call] came in. It was probably around 5 [p.m.] and I got home at midnight.”