GRAFORD (CBSDFW.COM) – A 7,500-acre grass fire is burning in Palo Pinto County in the same region that saw flames consume more than 150,000 acres of land in April.
The fire started around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday southeast of the town of Graford. By 4:30 p.m., a spokesman said the fire was so large that crews could only battle it by air.
An air attack, including a number of Single Engine Air Tankers, is being used to fight the fire. Texas Forest Service spokesman Tom Berglund said 125 homes were evacuated, 25 were lost and there was “little-to-no” containment at 8 p.m.
Thirty-five volunteer fire departments were on scene, along with four Texas Forestry Service Task Forces.
Highway 16 was shut down north of the town of Strawn for much of the day. The fire jumped the highway during the afternoon, heading toward Possum Kingdom Lake.
The sheriff’s office is evacuating everyone in the area along Highway 16 between Highway 180 and FM 2353:
At 6 p.m., at least three structures could be seen burning as a air tanker flew above, trying to attack the fire. The front office, administrative building and guard post at The Cliffs Resort – owned by Dallas-based Double Diamond Companies – also burned.
A family with a home inside the resort said their property was engulfed in flames. A spokeswoman with Pondera Properties, a real estate firm with homes in the Possum Kingdom Lake area, said she saw homes aflame, but couldn’t confirm how many or if they belonged to her company.
“There are homes in the Cliffs that have burned and we don’t know which of our properties, if any, have burned, it’s just too early to know that,” said spokeswoman Jackie Fewell.
The sheriff’s office had earlier asked residents to avoid driving through the fire, and to head to The Cliffs to board boats at the marina and evacuate by water over Possum Kingdom Lake.
“I don’t think I have my head around it yet, it’s just unbelievable,” said Linda Jackson, who lost her home to the fire. “I can’t believe it.”
Linda and her husband Paul Jackson were two of the evacuees. The couple’s property was spared in April, but Tuesday’s blaze consumed everything they owned.
“Before we knew it, it was coming,” Paul Jackson said. “(I’m) sick that I didn’t get the pictures of our folks and things like that, that we didn’t have time to get.”
Fifth grade students from Northwest ISD and from Dublin ISD are being removed from Camp Grady Spruce, on the other side of Possum Kingdom from the fire. Northwest ISD spokeswoman Lesley Weaver says the students from Haslet Elementary are being picked up by buses.
The fire is centered on the 101 Ranch, near the community of Lone Camp.
Meteorologists say the soil around the lake is down to one percent the normal moisture, causing concern as the fire continues to spread.
Fire and forest officials have not announced any injuries due to the fire, but Fewell said one of her agents was taken to the hospital with second-degree burns.
It was 104 degrees Tuesday, with 14 mile-per-hour winds and gusts of up to 23 miles per hour.
The fire is burning in roughly the same area of April’s PK Fire, which burned more than 150,000 acres of rural land and destroyed more than 150 homes.
“After the first fire, everybody thought it was just one of those things that happen,” Fewell said. “We’ve had a very active selling season, it surprised us actually … but we have no idea what’s going to happen from here forward. Possum Kingdom is still a beautiful lake.”