Burn ban for Nacogdoches County following a day of fires

CENTRAL HEIGHTS, TX (KTRE) - This afternoon billowing smoke and intense flames made it difficult for firefighters to battle a growing woodland fire. The largest fire was in the area off Farm Road 698 in the County Road 817 area of Central Heights. About 150 acres of land. "It just jumped the fire line," said one firefighter speaking over a two way radio.  As a precaution Sheriff Thomas Kerss ordered the evacuation of residents along the lower half of County Road 817.

The Nacogdoches Fire Department, Texas Forest Service, and volunteer firefighters were pulled off the scene around five Wednesday evening. Earlier, five fire departments and about 30 firefighters fought the fire, which is now contained. "They just told me to grab what I could and come in, hastily said an Appleby volunteer arriving on the scene.

The blaze spread from a control fire on the Henry Middlebrook estate. "One of the owners in the partnership was doing the burn. It was well under control yesterday. And it flared back up today. I just don't want it to hurt any of my neighbors," said Middlebrook. The property owner couldn't survey his own land because deputies had orders to keep motorists back.

"We lost two old uninhabited structures, maybe a third is involved right now," said Terry Westmoreland, with the Nacogdoches Fire Department. As a precaution, residents in the vicinity were evacuated. County roads around the fire were also closed.

Following an emergency meeting, Nacogdoches County Commissioners issued a burn ban effective immediately for Nacogdoches County. All outdoor burning is prohibited. "I've got two grass rigs here. Do you want me to send one of them down there?", said another radio call.   "Affirmative," responded Westmoreland.

The main concern was keeping the blaze from spreading to Highway 204. The winds are brisk.the woods are dry. It doesn't take much for a fire to get out of control. A plane was sent up to survey the spread of the blaze and others in the county. Within five hours firefighters responded to as many as seven calls. Smaller fires were reported in the FM 1275 area and in the Etoile and Melrose areas.