State and area firefighters battle 5,000-acre Arroyo Grande blaze

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As of Saturday, June 13, the fire had burned 5,000 acres and was 40% contained, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service

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  • Arroyo Grande Fire in Sutton County Photo by Gil Komechak
    Arroyo Grande Fire in Sutton County Photo by Gil Komechak
  • View of Arroyo Grande Fire from Annalu and Turk Gonzales' house in Ozona.
    View of Arroyo Grande Fire from Annalu and Turk Gonzales' house in Ozona.
  • This map shows how large the smoke plume from the Arroyo Grande Fire was Thursday night. Photo by the National Weather Service in San Angelo
    This map shows how large the smoke plume from the Arroyo Grande Fire was Thursday night. Photo by the National Weather Service in San Angelo
  • Map from the Texas A&M Forest Service that shows the location of the fire.
    Map from the Texas A&M Forest Service that shows the location of the fire.
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State and area fire departments are battling a 5,000-acre fire in Sutton and Crockett counties.

The Arroyo Grande Fire started Thursday, June 11, around 4:30 p.m. near the 385 mile-marker on Interstate-10 with Sonora Volunteer Fire Department the first on scene. Texas A&M Forest Service, Eldorado Volunteer Fire Department, Crockett County Fire Department, along with other area and state firefighters, and the Crockett County Road Department all responded as well.

As of Saturday, June 13, the fire had burned 5,000 acres and was 40% contained, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Smoke blew into the town of Ozona, and the plume could be seen for miles.

On Friday, June 12, Eldorado and Sonora Firefighters, along with local residents and forest service units surrounded the house of Ray and Nancy Glasscock as the fire engulfed the ranch.

According to the Sonora Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page, flames raced across the pasture behind the Glasscock’s house and were knocked down as the fire got into the yard.

Firefighters and residents were able to save the Glasscock’s house. The Glassocks stated on their Facebook page that all livestock was saved.

Also on Friday, the fire crossed over into Crockett County onto the Van Shoubrouek Ranch.

Saturday, officials with the Crockett County Fire Department reported that the forest service cut a dozer line on south and west sides of the Van Shoubrouek Ranch to hold the fire.

The forest service was also providing aerial support with multiple planes dropping fire retardant.

Forest service officials remind local residents that flying hobby drones near wildfires could cause injury or death to firefighters and hampers their ability to protect lives, property and natural resources.

“Aerial firefighting may be suspended until unauthorized drones leave the area, which could result in a larger wildfire. Firefighting aircraft including leadplanes, helicopters, and airtankers fly as low as 150 feet above the ground, which is the same altitude that many hobbyist drones fly,” forest service officials posted on their social media pages.

Crockett County Firefighters also responded to a grass fire Saturday morning on Sunset Drive inside the town of Ozona and to a grass fire off of I-10 near the Circle Bar Truck Stop Saturday afternoon. Both fires were quickly contained and extinguished.

Wildfire potential will increase this weekend and into the middle of next week across West Texas, including areas around Abilene, Childress, Lubbock and Amarillo.

A ridge of high pressure over Texas is producing hot and dry conditions and rapidly drying vegetation, including grass and brush across West Texas, according to a release from the forest service.

“The combination of underlying drought, dry vegetation, hot temperatures and dry air has increased the risk for wildfire occurrence for parts of West Texas and is forecast to persist into next week” said Luke Kanclerz, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Analyst. “Wind speed will also be highest in West Texas this weekend and into next week, which can increase the potential for wildfire spread.”

Texas A&M Forest Service resources have responded to 18 requests for assistance on wildfires across the state that have burned 7,608 acres while local fire departments have responded to 20 wildfires for 271 acres since Tuesday, June 9.

Texas A&M Forest Service encourages vigilance and preventative measures against human-caused wildfires.

“During these critical fire weather conditions, it is extremely important to remain mindful of all outdoor activities,” said Karen Stafford, Texas A&M Forest Service State Prevention Coordinator. “Any activity that can create a spark, can start a wildfire.”

Crockett County is currently under a countywide burn ban. The burn ban states that all burns shall be reported to the Crockett County Sheriff’s Office or the Crockett County Fire Department prior to commencing. It does not prohibit outdoor cooking in a properly contained area, which is attended at all times.

Violation of the burn ban is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

The forest service also recommends:

  • Postpone outdoor burning until conditions improve and always check for burn restrictions.
  • Avoid parking and idling in tall, dry grass. Catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass under a vehicle.
  • Avoid setting hot chainsaws or other hot, gas-powered equipment in dry grass.
  • When pulling a trailer, attach safety chains securely; loose chains can drag on the pavement and cause sparks, igniting roadside fires.

If a wildfire is spotted, immediately contact local authorities. A quick response can help save lives and property.

Follow your local meteorologist or the National Weather Service for weather updates at www.weather.gov

Follow @AllHazardsTFS on Twitter for frequent Texas incident information or The Ozona Stockman on Facebook and Twitter.