Fires starting and spreading faster than ever in the drought - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Fires starting and spreading faster than ever in the drought

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV)- Fire fighters across East Texas said this year they're responding to what seems like a record number of fires.

They said the extreme drought paired with strong winds are turning pastures into ashtrays. And in these conditions it hardly takes a spark to start a blaze.

Yesterday's fire off CR 370 near Winona threatened homes where grass fires usually aren't a problem.

"I've been out here 21 years but I've been so worried about that pasture thinking somebody is going to start a fire," said Johnnie Blake who lives dangerously close to where the fire spread.

"A loader caught on fire. It was right next to a pasture, and then it caught the pasture on fire," said Noonday Fire Fighter Kevin Londoff.

It burned nearly 60 acres.
Londoff said Noonday Fire Department has had a tremendous number of calls this year.

"We've had several woods fires and just plain open field fires and a lot of it is just because of this dry plant and forest life," said Landoff.

"Just about any minor spark can be a source of ignition, cause everything is extremely dry," said Lindale Fire Chief Jerry Garner.

Chief Garner said in his 11 years with the department, these conditions are sure making a mark.

"It's about as bad as I've seen in years," he said.

Landoff said in Noonday they're investing in a new machine that fights fires faster than water.

"The foam just absorbs all up into the grass and fire cannot operate. The fire cannot grow or move anywhere," Landoff said.

They said it's worth it in times likes these when a fire could start just about anywhere.

"If you took a cigarette not even half lit and through it on the ground you have a big chance of a spot fire happening and then that's what turn into something big," said Landoff.

He said it's important to remember how fast these fires move.. and how hard they are to stop.

Remember, Smith County is still under a burn ban and absolutely no outdoor burning is allowed.

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