LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Longview and Elderville firefighters battled a monster blaze that choked roadways with smoke and caused a head-on crash in the process. What started as a small controlled burn, got wildly out of control taking hours for firefighters to contain. It happened around 3:00 p.m. Sunday off of FM 2087 just south of the Longview city limits. The huge billowing cloud could be seen over Longview for miles.
"When you're looking at something you can't control like the wind conditions, we've quickly effected approximately 3 other peoples property here with the potential for it to jump the roadway and effect several others. It was a fast moving fire with a large amount of fuel in the path of the fire," said Longview fire department Battalion Chief J.P. Steelman.
Not able to get into the main body of the blaze, fire crews hurriedly shuttled small attack trucks with limited water.
"Our small attack trucks for this type of fire only carry about 250 to 300 gallons of water. We did have some natural barriers with the roadway here; the Sabine river on the opposite side," Steelman said.
Area landowners rushed back to their properties. "I was going to open gates for them if they needed to get through and stuff," said area rancher, Bob Griffin.
A major concern, the fire was heading towards a huge propane holding tank. "We did have some exposure potential with a large capacity LPG storage tank that was downwind of the fire," says Steelman.
Firefighters got ahead of the rushing flames and doused it before it could get to the tank. Then, in the thick choking smoke, 2 cars crash head-on. An elderly woman and a young man were hospitalized.
"We're looking at a fire that when we got here was probably 5 to 10 acres in size that quickly progressed because of the wind conditions to 20-to-30," Steelman says.