Firefighters gain on Eastland Complex; volunteer departments need donations

Laura Gutschke
Abilene Reporter-News

The wildfires in Eastland and Brown counties — the Eastland Complex fires — did not grow midweek, with cloud cover helping to reduce the threat of fire spreading.

This aerial photo from the Granbury Volunteer Fire Department shows the extent of the Big L fire as of Tuesday. As of Thursday morning, the Texas A&M Forest Service estimated the blaze to be 90% contained.

"Last night we had an IR (infrared flight) go over and showed minimal heat along the lines," said Adam Turner, Texas A&M Forest Service wildland urban interface coordinator, on Wednesday.

The seven fires in the Eastland Complex burned 54,513 acres and were 75% contained as of Thursday morning, according to the Forest Service.

The Big L Ranch fire, which burned more than 10,000 acres along the Hood and Erath county line, was reported as 90% contained as of Thursday morning by Lone Star Incident Management Team of the Forest Service.

This burned camper was destroyed in the Big L fire near a home in Bluff Dale.

The fire made it to Star Hollow Road south of Lipan where firefighters were able to stop its spread, according to information from the Granbury Volunteer Fire Department.

Crews were patrolling fire lines and searching for any heat sources that are around the containment lines.

Smoke production was expected to increase later in the week because of slightly higher temperatures, winds and lower humidity. And, the risk of new wildfires remains, Turner said, especially west of U.S. Highway 281. 

"The vineyard is gone but the winery still stands!" reads a Facebook post from Bluff Dale Winery, which was in the path of the Big L Fire. For more information on the winery or on ways to help, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bluffdalewinery or website at http://bluffdalevineyards.com/.

Active fires

– Eastland Complex, Eastland County - est. 54,513 acres, 75% contained, as of Thursday morning. The complex consists of seven fires that are being managed together:

• Kidd Fire, Eastland County (42,333 acres, 55% contained)

• Blowing Basin Fire, Eastland County (258 acres, 75% contained)

• Cedar Mountain Fire, Eastland County (229 acres, 75% contained)

• Oak Mott Fire, Brown County (4,031 acres, 90% contained)

• Wheat Field Fire, Eastland County (7,268 acres, 70% contained)

• Mangum Fire, Eastland County (est. 11 acres, 95% contained)

• Walling Fire, Eastland County (383 acres, 100% contained)

– Big L Fire, Erath/Hood County - 10,177 acres, 90% contained

– Ramsey Fire, Brown County - 2,090 acres, 95% contained

– Copp Fire, La Salle County - 87.3 acres, 75% contained

This map from the Texas A&M Forest Service Lone Star State Incident Management Team shows the extent of the Big L Fire along the Erath/Hood county line.

Volunteer FDs need donations

The Eastland Volunteer Fire Department is down to one brush truck after the breakdown of its second truck fighting recent wildfires.

"During the recent Eastland Complex fires, one of our brush trucks experienced multiple mechanical breakdowns, which required it to leave the fire line repeatedly and rendered it useless for fire suppression or home protection. More importantly, these breakdowns compromised firefighter safety and put firefighters in jeopardy," Eastland VFD posted on Facebook Tuesday. 

The loss of the $150,000 brush truck is an example of how recent fire outbreaks have taken a toll on the equipment and operating budgets of area volunteer fire departments. 

The Rising Star VFD is working to repair or replace the front end and two pumps on a brush truck, according to a Facebook post. The volunteers have responded to a record number of fires in February and March. 

North Lake Brownwood VFD set up a GoFundMe campaign to replace the truck's tires and battery and repair its pumps and to pay for fuel and other operating expenses to respond to future fires.

Following are the addresses and contact information for the VFDs in Eastland and Erath counties, and several other regional VFDs, to send donations. Some of the VFDs have set up Venmo accounts for electronic donations. 

Erath County VFDs

• Erath County Volunteer Fire Rescue, ems35@co.erath.tx.us, (254) 965-3388

• Bluff Dale VFD, P.O. Box 337, Bluff Dale, TX 76433; Paypal available on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Bluff-Dale-VFD-177379448965660/

• Dublin TX Fire Department, 213 E. Blackjack St., Dublin, TX 76446; www.facebook.com/DublinTXFireDepartment/

• Harbin V Fire Department, hvfd914@gmail.com; www.facebook.com/Harbin-V-Fire-Department-636832209669770/

• Huckabay Vol Fire Dept, info@huckabayvfd.com; www.facebook.com/HuckabayVFD/

• Lingleville Volunteer Fire Department, https://www.linglevillevfd.com/; linglevillevfd@live.com; www.facebook.com/LinglevilleVFD/

• Morgan Mill Vol. Fire Department, https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=VSX2T2LSS9UDL; fbadmin@morganmillvfd.com; www.facebook.com/MorganMillVFD/

• Selden VFD, PO Box 74, Stephenville, TX 76401; seldenvfd@yahoo.com; Venmo: @SeldenVFD; 

Additional regional VFDs

• Carbon VFD, 101 Canal St., Carbon, Texas 76435. Facebook: @carbonvfd. 

• Cisco Fire Department, 411 Conrad Hilton Blvd., Cisco, TX 76437. ciscofd.com.

• De Leon Volunteer Fire Department, 225 W. Labadie, De Leon, TX 76444; www.facebook.com/deleonVFD/

• Desdemona VFD, 8600 State Highway 16, Desdemona, TX 76445.  Facebook: @DesdemonaVFD.  

• Eastland VFD, 414 S. Seaman St., Eastland, TX 76448. eastlandfire.com. Facebook: Eastland Fire Department. 

• Gorman FVD, 101 Upton St., Gorman, TX 76454. Venmo: Gorman VFD.

• Hico Volunteer Fire Department, 101 Utility, Hico, TX 76457; www.facebook.com/Hico-Volunteer-Fire-Department-211007525630149/

• Lipan Volunteer Fire Department, PO Box 211, Lipan, TX 76462; www.facebook.com/LipanVFD/

• Olden VFD, 450 Farm to Market 3363, Olden, TX 76466. 

• Ranger VFD, 500 Loop 254, Ranger, TX 76470. Facebook:

@rangervolunteerfiredept; Venmo: Ranger Volunteer Fire Department. 

• Rising Star VFD, 127 N. Main St., Rising Star, TX 76471. Facebook: Rising Star Fire Department.

• Tolar Volunteer Fire Department, 9005 W. Highway 377, Tolar, TX 76476; info@tolarvfd.org; http://www.tolarvfd.org/; www.facebook.com/Tolar-Volunteer-Fire-Department-219570601392820/