Update: Firefighters believe roadside fire may have been intentional

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Firefighters were called out again Sunday to the scene of Saturday's roadside fire that broke out along Highway 69 between Lufkin and Huntington.

The fire was under control Saturday night, but a crew was sent to the scene Sunday afternoon after embers from Saturday's flames began to rekindle.

The Angelina County Sheriff's office said firefighters are just wetting the field and making sure everything stays under control and all lanes are back open on 69 South.

Random patches of smoldering grass now replace the fire that spanned six miles along Highway 69 South in Lufkin. How the fire started is uncertain, however, firefighters said they have their own suspicions.

"The only other way, maybe somebody started it," said Jerry LaSalle, Huntington Fire Department chief.

Through thick smoke, every fire department in Angelina County worked together to control countless scattered grass fires along the roadway. "The fire started in so many different spots," said LaSalle. "It's unusual, unusual, very unusual."

LaSalle said it's possible a chain dragging behind a car could have sparked a fire, but the width of the highway's shoulder makes that unlikely. "As it looks... it's a high possibility that it was started, it could have been started accidentally or intentionally," said Derek Clark, Huntington Fire Department assistant chief.

Whether intentional or accidental, Clark said the proximity of the fire created quite a scare. "It was a very dangerous, very dangerous fire because of the wildlife presence, the animals, the heavy traffic on 69."

Clark has been fighting fires all his life, he said he takes his work seriously. "It's kind of upsetting somebody would start the fires intentionally," said Clark.

Now all they can do is wait for the answers. "The forestry service when they got through with it they can tell us whether it was accidental or intentional," said LaSalle.

The Texas Forest Service Center will begin its investigation into how the fire was started next week.

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