In Texas fires, 120,000 acres, 68 homes burn, and one death


Fire on MF136 in Texas
A truck is forced to turn around by a fire in Potter County, Texas.

In west Texas on Sunday strong winds pushed 21 wildfires across 110,000 120,000 acres, destroyed about 68 homes, and caused one death.

Smoke from a 21,000-acre fire blanketed Interstate 20 near Midland causing a traffic accident that killed a 5-year-old girl on Sunday. In dense smoke a tractor-trailer hit the pickup the girl was riding in, according to Trooper John Barton of the Texas Department of Public Safety. A man and another child were also injured in the seven-vehicle crash.

Texas fatal accident
Five-year-old Cameron Dominguez, of Crane, was killed in a seven-car pileup on Interstate 20 in Midland Sunday afternoon when her uncle's truck was engulfed in flames. Photo by Roger Primera has more details about the accident:

A Corvette slowed to a stop at 2:35 p.m. on the interstate west of Loop 250 when the driver couldn’t see past smoke caused by a grass fire that started in the median, said Department of Public Safety Trooper John Barton.

The trooper said a Ford F-250 then crashed into the stopped car, followed by a BMW, Chevrolet truck and tractor-trailer. Three other vehicles also added onto the pileup shortly after, Barton said. The driver of the Corvette, 58-year-old Luis Inguanzo of Cedar Hill, was hit several times as his car skidded, and he was in stable condition at Midland Memorial Hospital as of Sunday night, Barton said.

One firefighter suffered second-degree burns while working on a fire near Colorado City, about 240 miles west of Dallas. That fire also destroyed three large oil storage tanks and two homes.

Firefighting aircraft were grounded on Sunday due to the winds, according to Texas Forest Service spokesman Lewis Kearney, but they are expected to be able to fly on Monday. He said the largest fire burned about 30,000 acres and 27 homes in the Panhandle northeast of Amarillo. A firefighter, Daniel Cook, was forced to evacuate because of the fire and found out later that his home was one of those that burned. He said someone told him that his “whole street was ash.”

Sunday night in Barnhart, Texas, 50 miles west of San Angelo, about 100 people gathered at the community center, ready to board three school buses if a fire approached the town. But the wind shifted and the fire moved in a different direction.

The high fire danger was caused by a cold front that moved across west Texas on Sunday, resulting in relative humidities in the teens along with winds of 20 to 30 mph or greater. By Monday morning the humidities had increased and most of those red flag warnings were cancelled. However the cold front is now passing across east Texas causing much of the central and southeast part of the state to be affected by red flag warnings.

Red Flag Warnings across Texas February 28 2011
Red Flag Warnings across Texas, Monday, February 28, 2011


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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

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