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May 30, 2013

Harwell reports on recent emergencies


As part of his regular monthly report, Emergency Management Coordinator Buddy Harwell discussed details surrounding several recent events with Palo Pinto County Commissioners Tuesday.

"May was pretty decent," he said, explaining a fire at Possum Kingdom Lake earlier in the month set the stage for other emergencies to follow.

"I was supposed to be in class that week," he said. The blaze that at one time threatened more than 150 structures forced him to cancel those plans.

Dubbed the Frontier Unit Fire based on its origin near Frontier Unit and Riley roads, residents near the fire were evacuated as firefighters from at least 13 state and local agencies responded.

Harwell described the fire, saying it "blew across Frontier Unit Road and up the hill," prompting a quick response to control it.

Final analysis showed about 40 acres were consumed by the blaze and there were no reports of injuries. All residents were allowed to return home and power had been restored to the area by May 16, two days after the fire was first reported.

"We know where it started," Harwell said, explaining the terrain made it difficult to determine a cause.

"It did not look incendiary or intentional," he said, though investigators determined it was "not electrical, not lightning."

He said authorities had not identified any witnesses or suspects as of Tuesday.

The fire was just a prelude to the disastrous storms that pummeled the area with large hail and tornadoes the same week.

He said he received just one report of a destroyed home in the county, though less severe damage was reported across Mineral Wells and beyond. The large hail decimated numerous roofs, causing a "hail event" which drew roofing companies from near and far.

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