Three firefighters were injured in a vehicle accident in Texas, according to an AP story.
ROBERT LEE, Texas — Firefighters across West and Central Texas continued to battle wildfires Tuesday that burned at least 200,000 acres, injured several people and forced the temporary evacuation of the 1,500 residents of Robert Lee, an official with the Texas Forest Service said.
Fire officials were waiting for daylight Tuesday to assess the scope of one massive wildfire stretching across Sterling, Reagan and Irion counties in Central Texas that could be as large as 500,000 acres, said David Abernathy, an incident commander with the forest service. Airplanes will fly over the fire during daylight Tuesday to obtain more accurate mapping data, he said.
At one point the blaze moved so quickly — fueled by 50 mph winds — that flames were consuming an area the size of “a football field every minute,” Abernathy said.
Three firefighters were injured in Archer County when two fire trucks collided head on after one swerved around a car that pulled out into the road, Abernathy said. One of the firefighters was airlifted to an area hospital, an Archer County dispatcher said. He survived but his condition was unknown.
Yesterday a federal jury convicted a homeless man, Steven Emory Butcher, of starting the Day Fire, which in 2006 burned over 160,000 acres in the Los Padres National Forest. The charges included willfully setting debris on fire in the forest and allowing a fire to escape from his control. The same jury also found him guilty of causing the 2002 Ellis Fire that burned about 70 acres in the same area.
The 49-year-old man faces up to 11 1/2 years in prison. The fire started in a remote area where Butcher camped for part of the year. It burned for four weeks through 254 square miles of chaparral and scattered pines in and around the Sespe Wilderness, a remote area with steep and rugged terrain. It destroyed 11 structures. The costs for suppression were over $73 million.
Strong winds in Texas, at times over 50 mph, have contributed to the spread of many fires. The state has put half the counties, 152 of them, under a burn ban. They have Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters on standby.
The Long Beach, California Press-Telegram has information about the fire on the island off the California coast last May which burned several structures, including one home:
“An Indiana man has been charged for allegedly starting the Santa Catalina Island fire in May, authorities said Tuesday.
Gary Dennis Hunt, 49, was charged with two felony counts in his arrest warrant: one for recklessly causing a fire to an inhabited structure and one for recklessly causing a fire to a structure or forest. Three Catalina Island addresses were listed in the counts.
According to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, Hunt was a subcontractor working on the island. Despite posted signs about extreme fire danger and prohibition of open flames, he allegedly used an open-flame torch on May 10 to cut the cables on the island’s radio tower, Ambrose said.
That allegedly started the fire, which burned 4,750 acres and cost $5 million to fight.”
I have seen coal seam fires in Alaska that were started by lightning, but until today I had never heard of a “coal refuse fire”. Apparently they are pretty common in southeast Ohio where the Wayne National Forest has been dealing with this mostly underground, one-acre “Coal Dale” fire since October 29. Now they are saying it is out.
According to the Logan Daily News:
“Using heavy equipment, D.J. Group, Inc. from Beverly spread the burning coal debris out onto a previously stripped mined area where it was extinguished. Once the material cooled, the entire area was graded to its original condition. This spring the area will be reseeded and planted with trees native to the area.”