BELL COUNTY (March 6, 2013)—The Iron Bridge Park wildfire, which crews from area departments have been battling off and on since Sunday, flared up again late Wednesday morning.
At 5 to 10 miles per hour, winds were significantly lighter than at the first of the week when gusts as high as nearly 50 miles per hour were reported in the area, but evidently the wind was enough to fan embers into flame again.
Firefighters from several area departments responded as the fire rekindled late Wednesday morning.
Wednesday afternoon the fire was burning along the Leon River from Horseshoe Bend to Stampede Creek.
Earlier in the day firefighters were wetting down hot spots, but local authorities said the 260-acre wildfire was contained.
Patrick Allen of the Texas A&M Forest Service set containment at about 45 percent late Wednesday morning and said smoke visible in the area was from trees that are burning in areas already charred by the fire.
The Forest Service said one local landowner was reluctant to allow firefighters onto his property, but agreed after the situation was explained.
On Tuesday three-dozen local fire units, four more units and a helicopter from the state, and dozens of firefighters were in a race against time to stop the rapidly-spreading wind-whipped flames of the rekindled wildfire from spreading to nearby homes.
Gusty winds fanned embers from the Iron Bridge Park fire Tuesday afternoon, hours after officials said they believed the blaze was out.
“We’ve got another big one,” a firefighter said on a two-way radio as he rushed to the area Tuesday afternoon.
By Tuesday night, the area charred by the fire doubled, from 130 acres Monday to 260 acres.
At one point Tuesday afternoon, the fire threatened at least nine homes in the area of Cowan Road and Buckhorn Cemetery Road and at least seven families voluntarily left the area, Casey said.
One woman was taken to a local hospital, but Casey did not say why.
Campers in both White Flint Park and Winkler Park were also asked to evacuate, officials said.
The biggest concern Tuesday was the wind, Casey said, which continued to fan the flames and blow embers through the air, although wind speeds were dropping late in the afternoon.
Winds were gusting to speeds as high as 40 miles an hour or more in the area of the fire earlier Tuesday.
About 30 firefighters from more than a half-dozen area departments and Texas A&M Forest Service personnel worked through the day and night Sunday and Monday to contain the wind-whipped fire that at one point threatened five homes and forced several evacuations.
The wildfire broke out Sunday, sparked by a campfire in a local park.