Fire burns 1,200 acres in Jasper Co.

JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A Jasper County wildfire closed a major highway between Lufkin and Jasper early Thursday, but was open again around 10:30 a.m.

DPS closed State Highway 63 between Zavalla and Recreational Road 255 in Jasper County.

According to the Jasper County Sheriff's Office, the fire had reached 1,000 acres and is 90 percent contained, as of 8:50 a.m.

Forced evacuations were issued for the Plum Ridge community and the area of the Sandy Creek boat ramp. County Roads 29, 32, 39, 40, 41 and 133 were also evacuated. However, a dispatcher with the sheriff's office said residents were being allowed back into their homes, as of 10:30 a.m.

"We'd just love to say a special thanks to all those out there that volunteer their time, put their lives on the line," Tommy Authement said. "We had guys out here at 2 o'clock in the morning we could still hear them in these woods trying to make fire breaks."

Authement's land backs right up to the County Road 32 fire, named by the Texas Forest Service.

Officials call the fire "suspicious," saying it will take further investigation to determine what sparked the blaze.

At 80 percent contained, fire crews continue working to put out hot spots.

"It's just part of the job of a firefighter knowing that there's going to be another one," said Melanie Spradling of the Texas Forest Service.

Thursday night, fire crews were still out on bulldozers working to draw containment lines around the fire so that it doesn't spread even further in the dry weather.

"It's in God's hands regardless, so you know I mean we just have to sit here and wait and see what's going to happen and ultimately it's in His will and I decided I wasn't going to worry about it if it was meant for our place to get burned off, then that's what would be," Authement said.

His land is spared, but more than a hundred acres of his brother's property have burned.

"We knew that it was coming right here and again prayer is a powerful thing and ultimately we were spared," Authement said.

Just down the road, Mary Ralph caught a few hours of sleep before waking up to feed firefighters at her church, which is now the command post.

"Scary," Ralph said. "There was one the day before just about a half a mile from our house and it was put out pretty quick, but it's scary. And nothing you can do."

The noise of helicopters flying overhead are a reminder is the battle is not over yet.

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