Wildfire continues to burn in Polk, Trinity Counties

June 20, 2011 3:34:53 AM PDT
A massive wildfire burning in Polk and Trinity Counties has spread to more than 15,000 acres. The fire started around noon Friday and is consuming parts of the Davy Crockett Forest just northeast of Huntsville in Apple Springs.

It's not yet clear what caused this wildfire, but investigators suspect a wheel bearing on an 18-wheeler produced a spark that caused the blaze.

The fire is now being called the "Bearing Fire" and is one of the largest wildfires in East Texas history, according to the Texas Forest Service.

Fire crews from at least nine agencied are battling the blaze.

At last check, officials said it was 40 percent contained.

A mandatory evacuation order was issued Sunday for Trinity County residents who live on part of F.M. 2262 near Griffin Ranch Rd.

Helmic Rd. to the north has also been evacuated, affecting about 22 homes.

A shelter was set up at Groveton High School.

Two homes and six buildings have been destroyed by the fire. The homes were on F.M. 2262. So far, there are no reports of any injuries.

"It's important for East Texans to recognize the critical fire conditions we are experiencing," Karen Stafford, regional wildland urban interface coordinator for TFS, said in a release Sunday. "There is high probability of ignition if a spark occurs. Firefighters need the support of Texans to prevent new fire starts during this extremely hot and dry summer."

Since November 15, more than 12,189 fires have burned more than 3 million acres in Texas, TFS officials said. Combined efforts of citizens taking proactive actions and a coordinated state response have saved more than 23,000 structures.

Most of the state is under a red flag warning, which means there is an ongoing extreme risk of fire. Six of the 10 largest recorded fires in Texas history have occurred this year, according to TFS records.

Another fire started Saturday near Jasper. It had burned six camp houses and about 2,500 acres by Sunday afternoon. Officials said that fire was about 25 percent contained Sunday.

The Houston Fire Department also battled brush fires.

HFD called for a couple of booster trucks to put out a small grass fire in southeast Houston just after 1pm Sunday. It was in an old sand pit near a golf driving range on Old Galveston Rd. near Beltway 8. Crews needed to booster trucks to get off the road and douse the fire. It was quickly contained.

A few hours later, HFD was working a brush fire off Peachtree at Tidwell in northeast Houston. Officials said homes were nearby, but none sustained any damage. Firefighters were still working Sunday evening to keep the flames away from the homes. It had burned about a dozen acres.

We'll keep following area wildfire activity and bring you the latest updates on Eyewitness News and abc13.com.

If you can see a fire and can snap cell phone videos or photos without putting yourself in harm's way, please email them to us at news@abc13.com or upload them on our iWitness Reports page.

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