68 degrees with light wind — Palo Pinto County South 20 APR 11

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.

* * *

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.

Susan Briles

Mission Ministries

Central Texas Conference

464 Bailey Avenue

Fort Worth TX 76107



817/338-4541 fax


20 APR 11 Map of region traveled today. SH 717 is far west, north of Ranger to Caddo.


Correction: map caption changed. Distance legend should be 0.0 to 6.0 miles. SH 717 location identified.


Filed under Wildfire

6 responses to “68 degrees with light wind — Palo Pinto County South 20 APR 11

  1. It was good to be able to watch some rain on the radar last night, and good to see your humidity rising. I hope conditions continue to improve, and that you can enjoy Fredericksburg with less anxiety.

    I appreciate the note about opportunities to contribute to relief efforts. I’ll be passing on that information. The Mail Online includes two photos of the Palo Pinto church this morning.

    • Linda, thank you for that link. That piece is really good and detailed. I hope people will link to that and see the photos and read the prose. Thank you so much for the link.

  2. Wow, Jack. I just caught up on your posts. I heard several days ago about the fires in Texas and immediately thought of you. Glad to see you have so far escaped unscathed. As a matter of fact, I was surprised to see your comment on my blog this morning! That was a sure sign you were OK.

    Several years ago in late April we were headed up to the Upper Peninsula for a birding conference when we were detoured off of I-75 near Grayling. A fire had started not a half hour earlier near the highway, presumably from a spark from a railroad car. I don’t recall how much land burned, but it spanned the highway for some miles. We were stunned at the destruction when we drove through on our way home, but on subsequent trips have been amazed to see how quickly the land has begun to regenerate.

    I will keep you in my thoughts, Jack, and hope for the best.

    • Yes, I am getting back to normal and trying to catch up on my friends’ blogs. Marie, you are correct, these wiped-out areas are stunning and terrible. One doesn’t think about the forces of nature until they become overpowering. Thank you for your sentiments.

  3. My heart goes out to the families who’ve lost their homes, and my love and admiration to all those who risk their lives to fight these fires. Your reports are bringing back memories, starting with the Lama fire (which was only about 2 miles from my home then, as the crow would fly) and in later years, the Los Alamos fire and the many other smaller fires that we could see and smell from here (not to mention get the ashes from); smaller fires that never hit the big time news but kept us on edge for what seemed like months. I remember one year when instead of being annoyed by the sound of man invading our solitude, I learned to find comfort in the sound of the many Sakorski helicopters that were hovering over us for weeks and weeks. (My apologies to Mr. Sakorski if I’ve spelled his name incorrectly.)

    I hope you are able to find some kind of peace with this nightmare soon.

    • Yes, the helicopters are comforting. Staying on edge for months has its tole on people. The fire may break out near a settled area, but it spreads back into the forest and it hard to fight. Forest and pasture roads are a great help in getting to and stopping the spread. Thank you, Martie, and hope you and yours remain safe this year.

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