Please link and refer to the Texas Forest Service updates, Department of Public Safety and county law enforcement officials for up-to-date information. I am unable to enter the restricted areas and the official pronouncements have the final say in operational policies during these wildfire events. That being said, I stand by my field observations as described herein.
At about noon, I drove to Caddo by way of SH 717 from Ranger, turned east and drove US 180 to Palo Pinto, and then back home.
The winds blew light, not brazen as they have the last few days, and the temperatures never climbed above 70 degrees for the two hours I traveled along the southern edge of the Possum Kingdom Complex Fire. The skies are overcast and early this morning a mist fell briefly. As I drove the F-250 near the Macedonia Cemetery on SH 717, the temperature dipped to 64 degrees. I saw one plume of smoke west of SH 717, and then as I sped past Caddo and down the Palo Pinto Mountains towards Palo Pinto, the hot spots I have seen in the last few days were calm.
Sadly, that was not the case farther east. I saw smoke north of US 180 east of Possum Kingdom Lake, and the Highway Patrol blockaded SH 4 out of Palo Pinto towards Graford and SH 16. I saw power company trucks carrying new poles to replace those that had been burned.
I read that the firefighters still labor at fire lines near Graford and Possum Kingdom East. Despite overcast skies and lower temperatures, the fight continues. See the Texas Forest Service updates on the right sidebar of the blog. Click on their website for additional information.
From US 180, going south on SH 919, back to the ranch, all appeared clear of wildfire and smoke plumes. Gordon, Texas, schools were open and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway construction and repair crews were assembling machines and materials adjacent to the Gordon Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Responders. Stowe Ford Company displayed their vehicles on their lots, a King Ranch F-250 looked especially nice. The Stowe Ford Company in Gordon is the second oldest Ford dealership in Texas.
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My wife teaches at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas, and the University sent an e-mail message yesterday, April 19, 2011, to the faculty. The Methodist Church at Possum Kingdom Lake burned and the Methodist Conference has undertaken relief efforts to the area for all inhabitants, Methodist or not. If you are thinking about donations for the Possum Kingdom Lake Complex Fire relief, I quote the e-mail below. I have seen the Red Cross and Salvation Army stations set up at Strawn, Gordon and Palo Pinto. They seem to be moving with the activity and need, so there also would be an opportunity to help.
The e-mail message I quote:
More than 1,000 firefighters are involved with the situation, 21 homes are reported burned as well as Cedar Springs United Methodist Church. Rev. Jim Senkel, pastor at Cedar Springs, reports the church has burned to the ground. People are still not permitted into the burn area, but you can help in this situation. The Weatherford, Brownwood and Fort Worth districts have been asked to supply 1,500 health kits to help the firefighters and those displaced from their homes. Health kit items include:
· 1 hand towel 15” x 25” to 17”x 27” kitchen (cleaning and microfiber towels are not acceptable)
· 1 washcloth
· 1 comb (comb must be sturdy and at least 8” long/no pocket combs or picks/rattail combs and combs without handles are acceptable)
· 1 metal nail file or clipper (no emery boards or toenail clippers)
· 1 bath size soap (3 oz. and larger sizes only in original packaging/all brands are acceptable)
· 1 toothbrush (adult size only/do not remove from original packaging)
· 6 adhesive bandages (¾” to 1“ size common household sizes)
· One tube of toothpaste
· 1 plastic bag (one gallon size – sealable bags only to hold all the items)
We are asking everyone to help out with all of the other needs. Priority 1 and 2 list items are needed IMMEDIATELY:
1. Firefighters & Police: Water, Gatorade, chapstick, non-perishable food items, chips, cheese & crackers, Wet Wipes, hand sanitizer, aloe vera lotion, sunscreen
2. Victims: Immediate needs are personal items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, Wet Wipes, hand sanitizer, aloe vera lotion, sunscreen
3. Victims: Long-term needs are household items.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Weatherford District office at 1-888-423-5378 or Laraine Waughtal, Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, at 254-595-1503.
Central Texas Conference
464 Bailey Avenue
Fort Worth TX 76107
Correction: map caption changed. Distance legend should be 0.0 to 6.0 miles. SH 717 location identified.