WOOD COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - You may have seen a lot of white smoke coming from the Wood County area around midday.
It was not a wildfire; it was actually a controlled burn to get rid of excessive underbrush and dry vegetation. And Texas firefighters took advantage of the 1,000-acre burn to do some training.
Wood County Fire Marshal Tully Davidson says the controlled burn at Mill Creek Farm in Wood County has attracted firefighters from around Texas.
“We’re with TIFMAS, which is Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, and they’ve come from all around as far as Roundrock, McKinney is coming, all the way to Texarkana. We’ve got about 14 departments here,” Davidson said.
Longview Fire Captain Charles Clanton says the burn itself is important for several reasons.
“We eliminate a catastrophic fire at a later date. In 2011 we lost a lot of timber; we had a profound amount of damage,” Clanton explained.
So fires are lit with drip cans which stop at plow lines and burn down the hill. The lack of fuel stops the bigger fire they will light which will burn uphill.
“If there is a wildfire somewhere it’s more likely to be in terrain like this,” I offered Clanton.
“That’s correct. Lightning strikes; we could actually have fires that are sustained for a couple days before we even know about them,” Clanton said.
The burn, and training, is in memory of:
“Andy Loller, who was a Weatherford Fireman who died on the line,” Davidson stated.
Loller suffered a heart attack while fire fighting, which unfortunately is something that can happen on the line.
“During this period we will inject problems. It could be a stuck truck, a broke truck, it could be firefighter that’s experiencing a heart attack. We want to expose them to everything we possibly can, and put some things in their tool box to deal with it in the future should they have the misfortune of being involved in that,” Clanton stated.
And that was the first scenario firefighters had to face.
“Right now we’re just trying to get him up out of this environment to rendezvous with the Flight for Life who’s coming in to fly the victim out,” Clanton explained.
And the first drill?
“We couldn’t ask for a better response,” Davidson added.
And with all the firefighters on scene the controlled burn should remain under control.
The burn will go on for three days. This is the second year firefighters have held the drill in conjunction with the controlled burn.