65° F Thursday, May 25, 2017

By Terry Hagerty

Firefighters battled high winds in eventually containing a fire near Park Road 1C and Buescher State Park early Thursday evening. A home and a nearby pickup truck were destroyed, but it was unknown at press time if there were any occupants at the time of the fire.

“I saw 20-foot flames and (heard) explosions from ammunition and propane bottles going off,” said James Elam, chief of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department, who responded with a crew of 15 and four trucks. “The winds were out of the north at about 25-30 mph.”

Elam said the high winds presented a danger of the fire spreading.

“With the high winds we had embers go over the road,” Elam said, referring to Park Road 1C, about 200 yards downhill from the fire site. But he termed them “small spot fires that we were able to put out.”

Elam said the destroyed home was a double-wide trailer. The fire area bordered a long swath of low grass for the power-line area, which served somewhat as a fire break, since the wind was blowing in that direction. No firefighters were injured in battling flames that soared high above treetops.

“The fire was not under control till about 11 p.m., we got out of there about 12:45 a.m. (Friday morning),” Elam said. Smithville firefighters teamed up with Heart of the Pines VFD – first on the scene, Elam said – Bastrop, Elgin and Texas Forest Service fire departments.

“We saw the fire from downtown Bastrop, the flames were over the tree tops and the winds were incredible,” concurred Mike Norman, district fire chief with Bastrop.

He added that a moderate-range of humidity Thursday likely aided in the fire not spreading as rapidly, since the ground had some moisture.

“What saved us was the humidity being in the 60 percent range, versus being down in the 20 percent, which would be bad,” Norman said.

Shortly before noon Friday, Heart of the Pines Fire Department asked for mutual aid for a flare up of the fire along Park Road 1C.

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