Office: Big L Fire was 'roadside start'

County burn ban still in place

Empire-Tribune Staff

The Erath County Emergency Management office reports that it has been told that the Big L Fire was started as a "roadside start," according to a statement on the agency's Facebook page.

Fires need three sources in order to ignite.

"What does this mean? While an exact determination has not been found it was likely started by a lit cigarette butt being thrown out or a chain dragging and causing sparks. With the dry grass (fuel) and high winds, fires start quickly," the site reads.

The Big L Fire started on March 20 at about 2 p.m. under extreme fire conditions about 15 miles northeast of Stephenville along the Erath/Hood county line. The fire was extinguished after destroying several homes, prompting an evacuation of the community of Lipan, and charring more than 11,000 acres, according to previous reports.

The statement further reads: "A fire must have three things to start and continue to burn. A roadside fire can start with a lit cigarette butt or a spark (HEAT), dry grass (FUEL) and wind (OXYGEN)."

"Please make sure you are not the next person to be the reason people lose their home and property.

"If you smoke while driving, have a container in your vehicle to put your cigarette butts until you can safely dispose of them. If you have are pulling a trailer or have chains or any metal that hangs from your vehicle, make sure it does not come in contact with the ground while you are driving and causing sparks.

"Most roadside fires are started accidentally by sparks from chains or cigarette butts that were not fully extinguished."

While the region received rain midweek, officials remind Erath County residents that a burn ban is still in place.

"We did not receive enough rain and with the high winds the grass (Fuel) will dry quickly," according to information from the Emergency Management office.

For complete information on the burn ban, residents can see the order on the county website at www.co.erath.tx.us/.../2788/Burn-Ban-12-13-2021-PDF or contact Erath County Fire Marshal Tommy Shelton at (254) 459-5000.

Wildfire Relief Benefit

First Earth Farm of Bluff Dale announced a Wildfire Relief Benefit scheduled for Saturday for the five families who lost their homes in the Big L Fire.

Included in the event will be live music, barbeque and a silent auction with all proceeds going to the families impacted by the fire.

The benefit kicks off at noon followed by an Easter Egg hunt at 1 p.m. and the auction at 6 p.m. It will be held at 541 Holt St., Bluff Dale. Gate entry will be by donation with all proceeds going to the families.

Anyone wanting to help in any way is asked to contact Larry at (817) 458-1099.

How to donate

Donations are still being taken for Big L Fire relief. If you would like to donate to assist with the Big L Wildfire, contact the Emergency Management office at (254) 965-1326 or Erath County United Way at (254) 965-4429.

Donation checks can be mailed directly to Erath County United Way at PO Box 1352, Stephenville, TX 76401. 100% of the money received by Erath County United Way that is designated for the Rebuild Fund will go to assist those directly affected by the Big L Wildfire.