Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

May 15, 2013

Fires erupt at PK, again

Firefighters once again battling PK area blazes


Mineral Wells Index

— By CHRIS AGEE



Residents in a number of homes on the Peninsula at Possum Kingdom Lake were evacuated Monday after a fire erupted near Frontier Unit and Riley roads.

“Frontier Unit Road and all of that back in there, and Burma Road Complex are all evacuated,” said Palo Pinto County Emergency Management Public Information Officer Mark Engebretson. He added some Golden Cove residents were also asked to leave.

The blaze had burned about 44 acres as of Tuesday afternoon, according to an estimate by Texas Forest Service. The fire was reported to be about 70 percent contained.

Nick Harrison of the TFS said Tuesday afternoon no homes had been lost, though residents of the area were still being prohibited from returning.

County Judge David Nicklas was on the scene Tuesday morning and said he was pleasantly surprised at the relatively small size of the fire.

“Realistically, we are in much better shape than we thought,” he said. “It looked much larger.”

County Judge David Nicklas was on the scene Tuesday morning and said he was pleasantly surprised at the relatively small size of the fire.

“Realistically, we are in much better shape than we thought,” he said. “It looked much larger.”

Though rugged terrain inhibited the ability of first responders to get into the blaze, Nicklas said other factors helped the effort.

“Relative humidity is working in our favor today, so that’s a good thing,” he said. “It’s a long, narrow fire, which works in our favor.”

One danger in corralling the fire remained a persistent threat throughout the day, though.

“Wind is obviously an issue; other than the relative humidity, the most important issue we have right now,” he said.

“It was pretty gnarly [Monday] night,” said Lone Camp Volunteer Fire Chief Charlie Sims. As of Tuesday morning, he added, “so far we’ve held it down.”

Engebretson said 13 agencies had responded to the scene as of Tuesday, adding 40 personnel were working on the fire at midmorning.

In addition to local volunteer departments, he said Texas Forest Service and the Red Cross were on site to assist in battling the fire.

About 150 structures were potentially threatened by the blaze, he added, noting crews were able to save about 30 structures.

As of Tuesday, officials said five bulldozers and 15 other pieces of firefighting equipment were at the scene, Engebretson said, with one ambulance remaining on standby.

Bulldozers continued to cut fire lines along Upper Burma Road, he added.

Public Information Officer Judi Pierce of the Brazos River Authority, which controls much of the burned land, said the fire “started in a low area and went uphill on what the locals refer to as Burma Mountain.”

She provided a map showing the estimated location of the fire.

“This is the area we believe is affected,” she explained; “but, it is an estimate since we cannot enter the area ourselves.”

Such lack of accessibility will also mean a delay in determining the cause of the blaze, Engebretson said.

“It was out in the middle of the woods,” he said, “so it will take going in there and rummaging around.”

PK Chamber of Commerce Board President Jackie Fewell said there was a “weird calmness” in the area late Tuesday morning.

Fewell, also a realtor with Pondera Properties, solicited information from locals and provided frequent updates on the company’s Facebook page throughout the day Tuesday.

“I noticed when I looked outside the breeze had picked up,” she said, adding individuals who had left their home near South D&D were not able to return.

As of midday Tuesday, she said 32 homes remained without power.

Fewell helped organize the collection of supplies for firefighters at the PK Chamber of Commerce throughout the day Tuesday, asking for prepackaged food items, water, and soft drinks.

Disaster Relief Coordinator Cindy Maness confirmed Tuesday afternoon firefighters had received sufficient water, food, and other supplies to continue battling the fire.