Notes from the Peanut Gallery

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Big thanks to the Val Verde County Rural Volunteer Fire Department!

This grassfire was on FM 334, north of Brackettville. To the best of BVFD's knowledge, the fire was simply an accident and no one is sure of the cause. Certainly no one has yet mentioned noticing any evidence of an attempt at a controlled burn.
It's so dry out here, fires can spark up quite easily. A vehicle's hot catalytic converter can spark a fire in dry grasses. Farm equipment can set off a blaze in the blink of an eye. Sometimes grassfires are started by people travelling through the property on foot who may start a fire for warmth and/or cooking.

I noticed a deer blind when I went out to shoot these photos and wonder if it's possible that a hunter may have accidentally started this fire. But there is no way to tell.
BVFD was called for this fire around 5:30 p.m. and Val Verde County Rural Volunteer Fire Department was on standby. I'm guessing at the time because I forgot to look at the clock when the call came over the radio. I left to go and shoot the fire somewhere around 6, I think. This photo was taken just a few miles from the turn into the property where the fire was.

The fire is somewhat wide spread and not an easy one to contain. It seemed very patchy, probably because sparks DO fly. The fire was probably jumping all over the place out there. Last I heard at about 7:30 p.m. they were calling for VVCRFD's tanker truck (full of water). You can't fight a fire without water and this fire is 15 miles from town. That's a long drive to go fill up your truck reservoirs. I believe BVFD's brush trucks only hold about 300 gallons each (they desperately need new brush trucks). On a grassfire like this, BVFD spends their water very carefully as 300 gallons of water can be expended, completely, from the tanks in under five minutes. It's a good thing this fire happened today because tomorrow we're under a wind advisory.

These photos don't show how widespread the fire was. In order to keep out of the way I couldn't roam around to shoot it from very many different angles.

Above is VVCRVFD Chief Jerry Rust and Pat Rust (driving). Please someone correct me if I have Pat's name wrong.

This is one of Val Verde's trucks. Notice all the thick brush and cactus. This country is full of cactus and thorns, big and small. It's hell on fire department brush trucks. Every call out in the boondocks means damage to the trucks.

The fire is still burning, I left when the sun got too low for me to see my way through the brush anymore. I never did find BVFD, but I know we had two trucks out there. I was trying my best to stay upwind and out of the way and didn't bother any of Val Verde's to ask where BVFD was. It didn't help that there is zero cell phone service on most of FM 334. Even if I'd wanted to bother BVFD Fire Chief Leo Luna with a phone call to find out his location, I couldn't have.

Follow Up: By approximately 10:30 p.m. BVFD trucks had been gassed up and returned to the station and Val Verde County Rural Volunteer Fire Department, was on their way back home with their two trucks and their tanker. Thank you Val Verde!

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