River Bottom wildfire contained, work not over

Photo from See It, Snap It, Send It!
Photo from See It, Snap It, Send It!

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Firefighters have fully-contained a Nacogdoches County fire which has swallowed up about 7,500 acres, according to Sheriff Thomas Kerss.

Thursday evening, fire crews made the call -- the blaze was contained. Work is not over. Flare-ups remain a constant problem. Officials say the wildfire is contained, but not controlled. First responders remain on the scene to monitor containment lines, but many firefighters are returning home to rest.

State Highway 21, which had been closed to through traffic, but open to residents who live in the area, is now back open to all traffic.

Texas Forest officials say the Angelina River Bottom Fire will be contained this afternoon.

"It was yesterday when the wind started kicking up a little bit, so we're still cautious," said Kerss. "We feel pretty good and we're hoping we'll be able to demobilize tomorrow."

Sheriff Thomas Kerss said he now estimates the fire to be 7,500 acres. He said more personnel is working from the ground today, making sure to deepen containment lines to keep the fire from jumping them.

Residents evacuated from the Linwood area are allowed to return to their homes.

Kerss said firefighters were able to use bulldozers to seal off containment lines and make them stronger.

As firefighting crews pull out to go to live fires it will become the responsibility of property owners and local firefighters to keep fire lanes open. The suggestions they've been told is to make sure all the debris on either side be swept away so fire cannot spread.

Kerss said a second fire in the Sacul area is about 90 percent contained. Officials believe this fire was caused by embers from the bigger fire.

On the Cherokee County side, Sheriff James Campbell estimated the fire has burned between 1,500 and 2,000 acres.

"It did get close to a house in the Linwood community last night," Campbell said. "But Alto VFD knocked that down."

"For now, with them so close together, we're treating them as the same fire," Kerss said. "It's burned about 400 acres."

Communication from Lilbert to Douglass will be critical. If necessary, ham radio operators can provide the communication links.

"All we do is help facilitate communications where maybe they're having dead zones or something like that," said Rusty Sanders of the Nacogdoches Amateur Radio Club.

In an unrelated incident, a house in Sacul burned to the ground. Kerss said it was a two-acre fire that is contained, and investigators believe it could be an arson case. The house was unoccupied.

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