Fire Shuts Down Gregg County Interstate - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/8/06-Longview

Fire Shuts Down Gregg County Interstate

A frightening scene to passing motorists on I-20 in Gregg County, as a wall of flames and billowing smoke bordered the roadway. Cars disappeared into a dark abyss. "It's been years probably back around '90 or '91, last time I've seen conditions this bad," said Gregg county fire marshal Chad Walls.

More than half a dozen fires had all available Gregg and Rusk County firefighters racing to stop the wind-blown blazes. "They've been working daylight to dark, and all night for the last two weeks. There's no end in sight for them," said Elderville Fire Chief Pat Owens.

But the biggest started at FM 2011 and rumbled all the way to the interstate. "We had to wait for the Forestry Service to get here they were fighting a fire in the Tatum area. They're just going from one fire to the next," Walls said.

Forestry Service, air units, multiple fire departments, even citizens were trying to douse blazes from north Longview to Tatum and stretching their resources to the limit.  "The maintenance on the equipment and the fuel cost is really draining their resources," said Owens.

Interstate 20 was shut down because of billowing smoke, with so much fuel to burn, firefighters could only contain it. Though the fires raged on, the firefighters achieved their objective protecting people and property. Forty acres were destroyed in the I-20 fire.

The blaze was finally controlled after more than seven hours of fighting. The Department of Public Safety will have road signs up on the interstate warning of any cautions or detours because of fire danger. Fires in north Longview, west of Tatum and the White Oak area accounted for another 100 acres torched today.

Bob Hallmark, reporting. bhallmark@kltv.com

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