PALO PINTO COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – A wildfire burning in rough terrain outside Palo Pinto grew to 2,000 acres Tuesday. The rapid spread prompted the county judge to declare a local disaster, banning the use of fireworks for the July 4th holiday.
The estimated size of the Surprise Fire was conservative according to firefighters. Believed to be started by lighting, it was 10-percent contained by Tuesday afternoon.
The fire started Monday afternoon and at one point 12 homes in the area were being closely watched, but so far there have been no evacuations. Fire crews were keeping an eye on ranches to the west, and a scout camp to the north of the fire. Bulldozer and hand crews had cut out a line on the eastern flank, between the fire and the town.
Because of the dry weather and risk of fire, Palo Pinto County Judge David Nicklas issued an emergency disaster declaration Tuesday morning and banned the personal use of fireworks. Permitted and authorized commercial fireworks displays will be allowed.
“We feel like we’ve already stretched out resources as much as we can,” Nicklas said. “And for us to have that, put that opportunity in there for additional fires to crop up somewhere, even though they may be small, we’re still stretched resource wise at this point.”
The ban is only good for 60 hours under Texas law, unless the governor approves an extension. The timing of the declaration Tuesday though will mean the ban will stand through the holiday.
The ban does not affect the sale of fireworks. At a stand on Hwy 180, where Diana Anderson works on commission, it was disappointing news in a season where sales were already suffering.
“they were down, yes they were, but we were hoping for a good day today or tomorrow”
Palo Pinto County issued an outdoor burn ban last month and that remains in effect.
The Forest Service was using four airplanes and two helicopters Tuesday to drop retardant and water on the fire.
Crews were planning to use a drone Tuesday night to get a more accurate map of the fire.