Until now, there’s been little information about how the Gorman fire started. This is despite the fact that at least 50 homes have been destroyed. While this is a devastating loss, it’s not the first wildfire to strike the area. In fact, the main concern at this time is the Kidd Fire, which is still burning.
At least 50 homes have been destroyed
Several Central Texas wildfires are now raging. At least 50 homes have been destroyed and dozens of others have been damaged or burned down. These blazes have forced evacuations in several towns. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for west central Texas. The fires are burning in dry tall grasses that accelerate the spread of the flames.
In Eastland County, the Eastland Complex fire is burning in thick brush and grass fields. It is estimated that it will burn around 45,000 acres, and is only four percent contained. This is the first wildfire of this size to hit Texas this year.
The Eastland Complex is a combination of four blazes in Eastland County. The fires began Thursday evening and the entire city of Gorman was evacuated. Four hundred fifty people were forced to leave their homes.
The fire grew to more than 45,383 acres on Saturday. It was located near the small towns of Carbon, Gorman and Desdemona. The town of Carbon has a population of about 400. Most of the town was burned, and residents left with few belongings.
Sheriff’s deputy dies while helping people evacuate
Deputy Sgt Barbara Fenley, a law enforcement colleague, died Thursday night while helping to evacuate residents of the Eastland Complex fire in Eastland County. Fenley was helping with door-to-door evacuations in the town of Carbon. She was driving a vehicle in poor visibility due to smoke. She later lost control of the vehicle and ended up in a field of flames.
The deputy’s last known location was to check on an elderly resident. Her body was found in the fire. The deputy was a law enforcement colleague who loved her community. She also served as Gorman police chief for six years.
Fenley was a dedicated officer who gave her life in service to others. She served as police chief in Gorman for six years and joined the sheriff’s office in 2013. She is survived by her husband and three children.
The Eastland County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the deputy’s death. Flags in the county have been lowered to half-staff in honor of the deputy.
Forest Service culture played into the decision to share crews
During the Gorman Fire in the Malheur National Forest, the Forest Service was forced to share crews in order to fight the fire. But an OregonLive investigation revealed that the agency made tactical mistakes that slowed its response and thwarted its chances of extinguishing the fire early.
In the early morning hours, firefighters drove to the fire site. They searched for windblown embers and windblown fuel. They also dug for cool soil to pile on glowing embers. It’s a common firefighting practice called rat-holing.
A weather station in John Day reported 80 degrees by 10 a.m. But firefighters were told that increasing winds were forecast for the next day. They also received news that a lightning storm had hit Malheur early in the day.
At first, the air campaign appeared to be on track. But the fire spread quickly. Crews from three engines surrounded the fire with hose. They also dropped water on hot spots and reinforced the line with retardant.
Kidd Fire remains the main fire of concern
Despite firefighting efforts, the Kidd Fire remains the main fire of concern. It is part of a larger complex of fires that started Thursday in Eastland County. The complex has burned more than 30,000 acres and destroyed more than 150 structures.
The Texas A&M Forest Service said that three fires were active in Eastland County. Two of those fires, the Crews Gap and Mosquito fires, have burned over 8,000 acres. They have been mostly contained. But the Crews Gap fire reignited on Thursday. The fire has already destroyed 50 homes. It has also affected the towns of Gorman and Carbon, which have both been ordered to evacuate.
The National Weather Service said that the winds were expected to be “very strong” on Friday. That caused the fire’s head to shift south, allowing it to move into a more remote area. It is possible that a rainstorm could help to put out the fire’s remaining flames.
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