BELL COUNTY (February 27, 2009)--Texas Forest Service crews Friday were still at the scene of a 400-acre wildfire in eastern Bell County that officials say was ignited by a discarded cigarette.
Earlier reports indicated the fire charred about 1,000 acres, but the Forest Service said late Thursday afternoon the area was closer to 400 acres.
The Forest Service said the fire was 85 percent contained.
Dozens of firefighters from more than a dozen Bell and Williamson County departments worked through the afternoon and into the early evening Thursday to contain the fire, which broke out just after 2 p.m. in the area of Barnes Road and FM 1123 east of Salado.
Crews remained at the scene throughout the night to watch for hot spots.
Firefighters were concerned that a cold front expected to move into the area later Friday could produce winds that could fan embers, reigniting the fire.
The Forest Service is warning residents of North, Central and South Texas that the fire danger will be heightened Saturday because of strong winds, low humidity and dry vegetation.
Tom Spencer, predictive services department head with TFS, said Saturday’s predicted critical weather conditions greatly increase wildfire danger in this area.
“Vegetation across Texas is very dry and susceptible to accidental wildfire starts because of the persistent dry weather pattern and entrenched drought,” said Tom Spencer, the head of the Forest Service’s predictive services department.
“These wildfires, if accidently started, represent a serious threat to citizens and their property.”
Since the start of the 2009 wildfire season on Jan. 22, the Forest Service has responded along with local departments to 262 wildfires that scorched a total of 42, 045 acres.
Local departments report another 1,670 fires that charred another 30,783 acres, the Forest Service said.