From Staff Reports
Two areas that were in the middle of last year’s massive wildfires are burning again.
Lightning is believed to have started a fire on the Rhodes Ranch northeast of Palo Pinto and what is being called the “Dark Valley Fire” off State Highway 254 east of State Highway 16 between Graford and Possum Kingdom Lake.
The Dark Valley Fire was reported at about 50 percent contained. Twice the Rhodes Ranch fire was reported as contained and out with crews “mopping up” hot spots but twice the fire has rekindled, which it did again Friday afternoon.
Columns of smoke from the two fires can be seen for miles. The fires have consumed about 2,400 acres of land. Both fires are considered out of control.
No evacuations were taking place but residents in the Brazos West subdivision are advised to be prepared in the event an evacuation is ordered.
Donations of supplies like water, wipes, eye drops, chap stick, etc. is being collected at Walmart in Mineral Wells. Supplies are also being collected at the Gordon VFD fire hall. Residents are asked not to take supplies directly to the fire locations because of activities involving fire personnel and apparatus.
The first began Tuesday afternoon on property in the Rhodes Ranch and was reportedly fully contained early Wednesday morning after scorching about 400 acres of property.
Thursday afternoon, though, Palo Pinto County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell confirmed the fire had rekindled and jumped the southern containment line, reigniting and destroying approximately another 400 acres.
Four local fire departments sent personnel to the scene, Harwell said, aided by a strike team from the Texas Forest Service and American Red Cross.
Friday morning, Harwell said crews were confident the fire had been extinguished and contained, noting firefighters remained on the scene to monitor the situation.
“We’re doing mop up ... hitting hot spots to make sure it doesn’t jump like it did [Thursday],” he said.
A fire also broke out in an area that was part of last year’s massive PK Complex Fire.
Dubbed the Dark Valley Ranch fire, the second lightning-related blaze was reported Thursday afternoon along State Highway 254.
Possum Kingdom Fire Chief Ronnie Ranft said the fire was 40 percent contained as of Friday morning, by which time about 500 acres had been destroyed.
The fire began in a heavily wooded area, Ranft said, explaining TFS staff checked lightning reports, which showed several strikes in the area last week.
He said nine departments sent at least 70 firefighters to battle the blaze plus additional Texas Forest Service resources.
TFS provided two dozers, Ranft added, and three additional private dozers, paid for by revenue from the recent Buckets and Boots fundraiser, contributed to the effort.
“We would not be where we are without them,” he said.
He confirmed two structures or barns were threatened in the fire and a deer camp with trailer were saved, noting the only loss as a result of the blaze was a well site.