Firefighters Battle Numerous Blazes Across Texas
REESE CENTER — From Reese Technology Center to Lubbock and Deaf Smith County to Andrews County, firefighters were in constant motion battling various fires Tuesday afternoon.
Massive plumes of smoke could be seen — in the midst of the blowing dirt — billowing from the runways of the former Reese Air Force Base between County Road 1100 and County Road 1300 or Research Boulevard.
Flames burned an estimated 1,200 acres and a few boxcars sitting out in the fields east of County Road 1100, said Joe Kozlowski, a Texas Forest Service spokesman.
By about 6 p.m., he said, firefighters had made good progress containing the fire in spite of the powerful winds and were focused on controlling hot spots.
The West Texas Mesonet site reported a peak wind gust of 59 mph at 3:40 p.m. in Reese Center, said Todd Lindley, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Lubbock.
Flames threatened Texas Tech wind structures, Lubbock County sheriff’s deputies turned away motorists trying to enter Reese Technology Center and closed a portion of County Road 1300 to traffic near that entrance, north of Fourth Street.
The heavy smoke also led to evacuations of 30 to 50 residences along County Road 1300 and Reese Center industrial park, Kozlowski said, but there was no imminent threat.
Shallowater, West Carlisle, Wolfforth, Smyer and Lubbock fire departments responded along with help from forest service resources and city maintainers.
Early preparations by fire departments, speedy efforts of firefighters and the access to extra resources helped keep the fire from spreading to homes and Reese Center structures.
The fire started after 3 p.m. in a field near County Road 1100, but a cause had not been determined.
In Lubbock, local fire crews quickly quenched backyard fence fires Tuesday afternoon in the 1600 block of 29th Street and the 2300 block of 57th Street.
“We got to (the fires) quick enough,” said Kelly Morman, a Lubbock fire battalion chief. “We were able to save the houses.”
Lubbock Fire Marshal’s Office investigators believed the strong winds moving power lines generated sparks that caused the fires.
An early morning fire at a vacant duplex in the 1200 block of 37th St., however, is under investigation as arson because it was intentionally set, said Robert Loveless, a deputy fire marshal.
The blaze severely damaged one side of the structure.
In the region
Forest service bulldozers and engines assisted in extinguishing the 300-acre Middleton Fire that threatened two homes and two structures about 9.5 miles northeast of Post.
At about 5:15 p.m., the forest service responded to the Lem Operating Fire at the Scurry-Mitchell county line. It burned about 100 acres but did not threaten any structures.
The Gaines County Sheriff’s Office reported a large wildfire broke out Tuesday afternoon about three miles east of Seminole on Texas 214. Three New Mexico fire departments assisted.
Fire weather conditions remain critical today, although not to the same extent as Tuesday’s weather. The high temperature is expected to reach about 86 degrees with northwest breezes between 15 and 20 mph, according to the weather service.
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