100 degrees and fire at Possum Kingdom 18 APR 11

After transferring items between two trailers here on our place, I ate a ham sandwich and departed for the northern part of our region, up SH 108, FM 919 through Gordon and up to US 180, approximately twenty miles away.  I turned west on US 180 and drove to the Stephens County-Palo Pinto County, Texas line.  I had not driven farther two days ago than the SH 16 highway intersection.

The magnitude of this fire stuns me.  From Ioni Creek to the Stephens County line on US 180, about ten miles or so, the country is blackened and hot spots still smolder in the hills.  As I approached the intersection of US 180 and SH 16, I looked out the window of my F-150 and saw the beginning of a huge fire eruption at Possum Kingdom East.

Click the photographs with your mouse to enlarge and get detail.

Looking north from US 180 near intersection of SH 16, PK East Fire.

I drove farther from the SH 16- US 180 intersection — Highway Patrol blocked SH 16 north — and saw blackened countryside all the way to the Stephens County line.  I turned around and came back down US 180 and here is a shot of the smoke cloud.

Smoke cloud of PK East Fire on US 180 headed east back to SH 16 and Strawn.

I saw at least ten fires — not counting the hot spots — along US 180 and SH 16. Rio Vista, Joshua, Granbury and other volunteer units were scattered along the highway. With the outbreak of at least two fires northwest of Strawn, I saw the Cunningham Fire Department go into a ranch, led by the rancher and authorities.

Through-traffic in Strawn is prohibited and I cut across the country, using Davidson Cemetery Road to get back home.  Highway 16 in Strawn is scattered with vehicles and fire trucks.

I don’t like disaster-pandering posts.  I think they are bad form and take the mind away from applying its powers to correct defects that caused disasters in the first place.  Tours of Chernobyl are disgusting.   These events in my region — I am about fifteen-to-twenty miles south from the fires that have gone on for days it seems to me — are uncommon.  I’ve lived most of my life in Texas, in this region, and I’ve never seen fires like this.  My immediate surrounds in north Erath County are green and we’ve been fortunate.  Mingus, my mailing address, and Gordon, six-miles away, were ordered to evacuate several days ago.  As soon as these events are over, I will be glad to post on verbena and milkweed.

Tomorrow the Fire Weather Watch forecast is worse.  Today, it’s 100 deg. and wind at 20-25 m.p.h., humidity low.  If it gets worse, I won’t go to teach in Abilene, but stay here and monitor the place.

Burned structures at US 180 and SH 16.

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12 Comments

Filed under Wildfire

12 responses to “100 degrees and fire at Possum Kingdom 18 APR 11

  1. Jack, the updates are just incredible. I wish I could help. My heart is with all of you and your friends. love Karen

  2. It’s the very fact that we know you are not into disaster-pandering that makes this so real for us. I can only imagine the vigilance that is necessary. Take extra Care.

  3. Kittie Howard

    We know you’re a straight-talkin’ man and not one to exaggerate. I know you’ll review the situation carefully tomorrow. Good luck!

  4. You and your neighbors are in my thoughts. My fingers are crossed for you.

  5. Erin R

    The pictures send chills down my spine. I can see the smoke right now from the window; it covers the entire southeastern horizon. Will miss you if you don’t make school tomorrow…

    • It’s really bad up there. I hear on the news that the whole PK park is gone, 50,000 acres plus.

      I’m going to look at the forecast and make my decision. I have an exam to give, so maybe I will delay it till Thursday, if necessary.

  6. Disaster-pandering posts tend to be more about the writer and less about the subject at hand. That certainly isn’t true here.

    I heard on the news tonight that in places the fires had begun to crown – to jump from tree to tree. I do hope the winds begin to die so that’s less of a problem.

    The fire fighters must be exhausted.

  7. Lulu

    Your post brought to life the sadness I have been supressing.This doesn’t seem real.Your writing sounds like the straight-talkers I know from your area and Wichita Falls.You all will be in our prayers today as we watch and wait for news.Be safe.Thanks for sharing.

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