UPDATE: Officials list communities in potential path of "Bearing" Wildfire

This Texas Forest Service map outlines the area which has been affected by the Bearing Fire.
This Texas Forest Service map outlines the area which has been affected by the Bearing Fire.

TRINITY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - An aerial view of the Bearing Fire in Trinity and Polk County shows the blaze to cover more than 18,000 acres.

According to Trinity County Judge Doug Page, "The fire began at U-S 287 at the Trinity-Polk County line and spread north-northeast consuming more than 18-thousand acres in its wake.  It's about 40 percent contained."

"The closest housing community threatened by the fire is the Helmic community, which is located about four miles southwest of the fire's current location," Judge Page added.

As of 7:30 p.m. Monday, no homes are under mandatory evacuations. However, the Texas Forest Service said residents in the corridor between Apple Springs and Groveton need to remain watchful. John Warner, a spokesperson for the agency, said residents in the communities of Trevat, Sulpher, Helmic, and Nigton need to be vigilant and look out for neighbors in case they need to evacuate.

Warner said the wind is blowing north, so residents on the southeast end of FM 2262 are in the path of the fire. However, firefighters have been holding the fire from spreading beyond the 18,200 acres. The active part of the fire is inside the perimeter of the already mapped acreage.

A press release describes the blaze is south of FM 2262 and north of U.S. 287, between Groveton and Apple Springs. The fire jumped north of FM 2262 on Sunday, but firefighters were able to extinguish it and keep it contained south of the road.

"We have all available resources working to contain this fire.  They are also working to put up firelines to keep it from spreading," Judge Thompson said.

The Texas Forest Service has scheduled a public meeting for Monday at 8 p.m. to talk to home and property owners about their efforts and concerns.  That meeting will be held at Centerville High School gym, which is located on Highway 94 about 35 miles west of Lufkin, between Lufkin and Groveton.

A Texas Forest Official confirmed that an aerial search of the blaze showed the fire is burning across 18,200 acres in Trinity and Polk County, which would make it the largest fire in East Texas history, passing the Moore Branch Fire in Newton County in 2000, which covered 15,856 acres.

According to a report sent to the Texas Forest Service by Trinity County Judge Doug Page, the initial fire is believed to have been sparked by a trailer being towed on FM 354 in Polk County. Forest Service spokesperson Karen Stafford said an overheated wheel bearing is to blame. The fire was originally reported Friday around 12:30 p.m. to the Corrigan Police Department. That two-acre wildfire started in Polk County and spread to Trinity County.

The Bearing Fire resembles a hand, with one large portion and five segments spread like fingers.

TFS spokesman John Warner said the wind is pushing the fire from the south to the north, but that could change at any moment.

At the command center at Centerville High School, which is located off State Highway 94 between Apple Springs and Groveton, local volunteer firefighters, as well as firefighters with the U.S. and Texas Forest Service gathered to be sent out.

"Without them it couldn't be done," Warner said. "It's our rural fire departments, it's their workforce, their volunteers that are making it happen."

On the ground, a pilot from California waited to get her call to drop more water on the blaze.

"It's very gratifying to protect structures and come back the next day and they're still there," Elizabeth Seymour said. "That's the best part."

"It doesn't look like we're going to get released anytime soon, so we're happy to stay," Seymour said.

No roads are closed. State troopers are in the area to get updates.

"It's really sad from the standpoint of seeing all the forest being burned like this," said DPS Senior Trooper Greg Sanches.

"Homes, property, can be replaced," Warner said. "It's human life that cannot be replaced."

Angelina County officials last week issued a burn ban, as well as a fireworks ban for the county. Today, San Augustine County Judge announced that Gov. Rick Perry had approved a fireworks ban in that county.

A fireworks ban prohibits the sale, possession and use of all fireworks.

The East Texas Weather forecast calls for partly cloudy and hot and windy with a high in the mid 90's.  There is a very high fire danger for East Texas.  The best chance of chance of rain this week is forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday.  More.

East Texas News' Lane Luckie has provided a video report from Jasper County on his Twitter page.

Check back to KTRE.com for updates to this story.

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