Notes from the Peanut Gallery

Thursday, October 9, 2008

High Fire Danger Alert

High fire danger alert for central Texas

Texas Forest Service urges extreme caution

October 9, 2008--COLLEGE STATION, Texas--The Texas Forest Service is urging the public to be aware of heightened fire danger in most of central Texas due to prolonged drought conditions.

“Fuel sources remain very dry and susceptible to accidental fire because of the prolonged drought in the central Texas area,” said Tom Spencer fire risk assessment coordinator for Texas Forest Service. “Normally this time of year we see a decline in fires because of decreased temperatures, shorter burning periods and more precipitation.

“While cooling temperatures have helped the situation, there is still a high risk for problematic fires because of the prolonged drought conditions in the area,” Spencer said.

These drought conditions could lead to problematic fires that will spread quickly, pose containment problems and endanger public safety. The public should be aware that these fires, if accidently started, could quickly get out of hand.

For more information on fire advisories and area conditions, go to Texas Forest Service and click on Fire Danger/Advisories.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hello Dolly!

from the Texas Forest Service


July 22, 2008--COLLEGE STATION, Texas--While the citizens of South Texas worry about possible flooding associated with Hurricane Dolly, firefighters in most of the state worry that winds associated with Dolly could lead to increased wildfire activity and/or fan the flames of any wildfires that arise.

Rainfall associated with Dolly is expected to be limited to Deep South Texas and within a short distance from the Texas coast. Strong, gusty winds, however, are expected to extend across much of the state where little or no precipitation is expected.

Combined with extremely dry fuels in much of Texas, the higher winds are expected to create conditions favorable for rapid wildfire spread and increased danger for firefighters, said Hunter Wistrand, operations chief for the Texas wildfire suppression team in Granbury.

“With hot, dry conditions expected across most of the state for an extended period, Texas residents must use all possible precautions to prevent accidental fires from occurring,” said Wistrand. “All firefighting personnel must also take extra precautions to ensure their own safety during firefighting operations.”

Wildfires pose a very real threat to lives, homes and communities in addition to natural resources; they also bring heightened risks of heat-related injuries to firefighters working for extended hours in the hot, dry conditions. “For both the public’s safety and that of the firefighters working to protect them, public cooperation is absolutely essential to prevent additional wildfires from occurring,” said Wistrand.

For more information on wildfire prevention visit

Monday, June 23, 2008

It's all fun and games until someone starts a fire.


from the Texas Forest Service

June 23, 2008


For many, fireworks are an exciting part of Fourth of July celebrations. But the colorful fun they provide can easily turn into a dangerous situation if proper and safe use is not followed.

“It only takes a spark to start a wildfire,” said Tom Spencer, fire risk assessment coordinator for Texas Forest Service. “Fireworks, especially aerial fireworks, can be the source of that spark.”

Much of the state is experiencing drought. As a result, the grasses in these areas have dried and are easily ignited. Spencer recommends keeping fireworks use well away from dry grass and other flammable vegetation, to prevent accidental fires.

The Texas Forest Service recommends the following precautions for safe fireworks use-

  • Adhere to all county and city fireworks laws and restrictions
  • Use fireworks outdoors, away from dry grass and buildings.
  • Follow label instructions on how to properly discharge fireworks.
  • Only use fireworks with close adult supervision.
  • Keep a bucket of water, wet towels and a garden hose nearby.
  • Discard used fireworks; never try to relight them.
  • Allow used fireworks to cool thoroughly before handling to avoid possible burn injuries.

Caution is advised on fireworks use because of the potential they pose for starting wildfires. Texas Forest Service urges those celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks to plan ahead and limit use of fireworks to areas where accidental fire starts will not occur.

“Everyone doing their part will help make sure we all have a happy and safe Independence Day holiday,” said Spencer.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

20,000 Acre Wildfire Threatens Texas Communities

Youngblood Fire in Dawson County -- 4-21-08 from the TFS website.

June 5, 2008--20,000 acre wildfire threatens West Texas communities

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Heavy air tankers, helicopters and ground crews from Texas and New Mexico are attempting to contain the 20,000-acre wildfire burning through Presidio and Jeff Davis Counties, Texas.

According to Texas Forest Service officials, the path of the wildfire is moving northeast at approximately two to three miles-per-hour (mph) and threatens more than 60 homes. Also in the path of the wildfire are the Bloys Camp historic religious site, the Crow's Nest tourist camp, the Bloys Symbolic Oak historic tree of Texas and numerous wind turbines.

High winds, high temperatures and low relative humidity contribute to the enormity and speed of this wildfire and others burning today throughout West Texas.

Today and tomorrow, look for SSW winds in the 30-40mph range and relative humidity (RH) values dropping into the single digits in the Panhandle south of I-40 and in the northern part of the Southern Plains. SSW winds will be 25-35mph with single digit relative humidity in the Trans-Pecos, southern part of Southern Plains, and Panhandle north of I-40.

Current drying weather conditions cause moisture in vegetation and ground cover to decrease. Grasses and twigs less than ¼" in diameter are classified as one-hour fuels. The one hour refers to the amount of time it takes for the fuel to respond to atmospheric moisture. With current one to two percent moisture levels in these one-hour fuels in West Texas, officials from Texas Forest Service predict that wildfire spread would be in the two to five mph range.

"The fuels – grasses, etc. – are critically dry in part of the lower Permian Basin and Trans Pecos areas and not much better in parts of the Panhandle," said Brad Smith, fire behavior analyst with Texas Forest Service. "The conditions are such that we could see very active fire behavior today and tomorrow over a large portion of the western part of the state."

For more information, go to and click on Fire Danger/Advisories.

For more information on the Bloys Symbolic Oak, go to

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A little help needed in Eagle Pass

A friend of ours, Mary Jane in Eagle Pass, is asking for a little help on Saturday, May 10.

Dear friends, on May 10 at 11:30 a.m. -- 2 p.m. at Maverick County Lake, my family will be having a chicken plate sale with trimmings and drink for a donation of $5.

This is to benefit my husband Guillermo Hernandez' medical bills. We will greatly appreciate your donation.

Let me know if you would like to purchase a ticket and also help by telling some friends about the plate sale or you can just go by that day of the sale. See you all there. Thank you!!! God Bless!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Heckler story "revisited" in The Brackett News

On April 17th The Brackett News' front page story read, "Heckler hassles firefighters on hose line." The story goes on to say that a BVFD member heckled KCFR during a structure fire. This week, in the April 24 issue, on the very back page in the classifieds under "Corrections" the paper informs us that said heckler is not a BVFD member anymore and hasn't been for at least three months.

I've talked to a few people who were at the fire, including said heckler. It's true that he has not been a Brackettville VFD member since at least January of this year. He volunteers with another department and, for various reasons, he had to resign his position with BVFD when he began volunteering with another department. No criticism there, how many fires can one man fight?

I don't know what KCFR has to say on the matter. The accused heckler says he offered his services, was told his help wasn't needed, offered again, was told no again, and that he then moved back to where he was asked to so that he would be out of the way. He also pointed out that this, ultimately, was not a polite exchange from either side but that he certainly did not interfere or "heckle" KCFR while they were trying to suppress the fire. According to him, once KCFR made it quite clear that in no way, shape, or form would they accept his help--that he got the heck out of the way. He claims his only comment at all to any KCFR members after he stepped back out of the way was to point out that they couldn't get the fire hydrant open because one of the members was turning the valve the wrong way. Is it heckling to point out such a very important fact at the scene of a fire?

Beyond that, according to him, he said nothing. According to another witness at the fire who was close enough to hear the exchange between the "heckler" and KCFR, the so-called heckler offered his services, was refused because of insurance reasons, offered again stating that he wasn't worried about injury to himself and wouldn't press for compensation if he were hurt but was refused again. This witness, who preferred not to be named, says he saw no heckling of any kind that evening. He also pointed out that he wasn't near our former BVFD member throughout the evening and can't vouch for all of his actions at the fire.

I can hardly blame KCFR for saying no to the offer (the liability probably just isn't worth it for a county run department to take on help from unknown strangers at the scene of a fire), nor can I blame our former BVFD member for wanting to help--especially considering his training and experience. KCFR could have been much more professional in saying no, and our former member could have turned the other cheek when he was treated rudely instead of being rude right back. But, hey, stuff happens. And a structure fire is a very stressful place to be for all fire fighters.

I'd like to know what kind of heckling people are claiming our former member was doing and I'd like to know which people are claiming to have witnessed it. I haven't heard a peep about that. Speaking of lack of source material, KCFR still fails to point out under what statutes they have established their department. The powers that be still seem content to disregard our points of law on the matter and refuse to offer points of law that disprove ours.

As long as the citizens of Brackettville, TX continue to allow themselves to be told what to believe, they'll continue to believe what they are told. I encourage everyone in Brackettville to press their city and county leaders to prove what they say to be true and to conduct business according to Texas legal statutes. If you aren't being shown the truth, then you must seek it out for yourselves.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

BVFD and The Brackett News

Yes, I know BVFD made it on the front page of The Brackett News last week. Thursday afternoon and evening brought a flurry of hits on the blog, many emails full of question marks and exclamation points, and we burned up a lot of minutes on our cell phones. But I'm told that the newspaper will be revisiting the story again next week so I'm hesitant to respond to the story just yet. Check back next Friday!