Grass Fires Burn Acres, Threaten Homes

At least two large grass fires today have burned dozens of acres of forest, threatening homes nearby.

One fire was in Upshur County, a few miles north of Big Sandy. The other one, in East Mountain, north of Gladewater.

For the most part, the flames were low to the ground. But they spread over a wide area, engulfing close to 30 acres in East Mountain and threatening two homes nearby.

"We just got scared when they put the hoses in the yard and they said, when the fire gets to this fence, turn on the water," Barbara Moore, one homeowner, said. "Well, my house is 10 feet from the fence."

The Texas Forest Service bulldozed the brush around the fire, hoping to contain the blaze. Meanwhile, local firefighters stood by, in case the flames were to spread.

"The smoke was here," Marvin Godwin, Moore's next-door neighbor, said. "And the ashes coming down. And I got scared."

In Upshur County, a similar story, but a smaller area -- six to eight acres -- and a less mysterious cause.

"Possibly started by the grinding of the rails by the railroad track. We have not got that confirmed," Jesse Allen, assistant chief of the Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Department, said. "The railroad service, they have the rails ground to smooth them out. And the piece of equipment that does that sometimes shoots large sparks off."

Luckily, no damage to homes close to either fire. But whoever set up a camp site in the East Mountain woods might not ever see it again.

Fortunately, no one was hurt at either location. Officials have not figured out for sure what started the fires.

Julie Tam, reporting.