Strong winds fueled a large grass fire in Garza County Wednesday afternoon. Crews shut down Highway 669 between Post and Gail for several hours. Teams from eight South Plains communities and the Texas Forestry Service battled the blaze.
Wednesday night, flames were under control, but emergency management estimates at least 1,500 acres burned. Grass and wind were not the only factors feeding this fire, though. It spread into a large oil field, creating an even larger concern.
By late Wednesday afternoon, flames tore through hundreds of acres south of Post. Michael Isbell, Emergency Management Coordinator for the city of Post and Garza County tells NewsChannel 11 the blaze began with spark.
"It started over here on the west side of the highway at a ranch. I believe there was a welder that was working, got away from him when the winds picked up," Isbell said.
The fire crossed Highway 669, and law enforcement shut the road down. Some folks we spoke with waited for two hours before they were allowed to cross, and even then, Garza County authorities escorted motorists through the area.
Teams from Scurry, Crosby, and Borden Counties, along with crews from Lorenzo, Ralls, Post, Justiceburg and Fluvana battled the blaze on the ground. Hours later, a plane from the forestry services dumped help from above.
"Got a little bit out of hand, called in the Texas Forestry Service," Isbell said.
When flames crossed Highway 669 the amount of oil production that happens on the east side of the road really concerned fire fighters.
"That was the main concern is the oil lines," Isbell said.
Isbell says some of the oil lines above ground caught fire. By Wednesday evening, teams were still working to extinguish those flames. As of 10 p.m. Wednesday crews were still cleaning up hot spots in the area.
USDA Forest Service Wildfire Map