Tree farm fire caused by hot spot from weekend burn reigniting, fire marshal says

Tree farm fire caused by hot spot from weekend burn reigniting, fire marshal says
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(Source: KTLV News Staff)
(Source: KTLV News Staff)

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The Smith County Fire Marshal says the fire at a tree farm has been contained.

Fire Marshal Connie McCoy Wasson says that the tree was contained to seven acres. She said the fire spread to high stacks of plastic tree tubs, causing the black smoke which was seen throughout the county. The fire crossed the property line into a pine thicket, which slowed the wind and the fire, Wasson said. 

Wasson said a plow line is around the contained fire, but it will continue to smolder for hours. There will be firefighters monitoring the area throughout the night.

The Smith County Sheriff's Office Environmental Crimes Unit will be handing the case over to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for investigation, county officials say.

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The fire is at Trees USA in the Lindale area. Smith County Fire Marshal Connie Wasson says that there had been a controlled burn at the tree farm over the weekend. Apparently, Wasson said, a hot spot was reignited during windy conditions Tuesday afternoon, and the fire again began to spread.

Smith County released the following statement at 3:30 p.m.:

A controlled burn at Trees USA, just west of Lindale, has gotten out of control and is being battled by five fire departments.

The Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Smith County Sheriff’s Office Environmental Crimes Unit is on scene, at 14352 Farm-to-Market Road 849, near Interstate 20, and the Texas Forestry Service is en route. Fire Departments who are working the blaze, along with plows, include Lindale, Van, Flint/Gresham, Jackson Heights, Dixie and Red Springs.

The Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office was dispatched at 2:09 p.m. The controlled burn has spread into nearby woods, and also caught the business’ large, plastic tree pots on fire.

Winds continue to shift today, feeding the fire.

Smith County Fire Marshal Connie McCoy-Wasson is urging residents to refrain from burning during high winds. If a controlled burn gets out of control and crosses property lines, you can be charged with reckless destruction of property and be ordered to pay for property damage.

At 4 p.m., the Texas Forest Service brought a plow in to assist.

Most of Lindale's firefighters, officials said, were at a funeral for a firefighter who died after battling cancer when the call came in. However, those who were in the station headed to the fire, and are being assisted by at least four other departments.

This is a developing story; stay with KLTV and for updates.

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