3 firefighters suffer heat injuries at Texas fire

Thanks to a quick response from local and area volunteer firefighters, the fire caused relatively little dollar damage

The Times Record News

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — Two Wichita Falls firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries, and one volunteer firefighter was taken to the hospital for heat-related injuries in the wildfire that blazed through the Tanglewood addition of Wichita Falls on Sunday afternoon.

With such hot, dry conditions, the outcome from the blaze could have been much worse. Thanks to a quick response from local and area volunteer firefighters, the fire caused relatively little dollar damage.

Total estimates of the damage have not yet been completed. According to Assistant Fire Chief Bill Weske, two houses have damage to the siding, a couple of outbuildings were damaged and some fences were burned.

The grassy, brush filled area made it hard for firefighters to battle the blaze, but with help from several volunteer fire departments and a Texas Forest Service task force, the fire was contained before severely damaging any homes.

The Wichita Falls Fire Department responded quickly, according to Battalion Chief Lynn Holzer, who updated the status of the fire from a grass fire to a 3-alarm fire when he arrived at the scene.

"We had a very good response from all volunteer fire departments for mutual aid," Weske said.

The 41 city firefighters on duty at the time were dispatched to Tanglewood. Volunteers from Burkburnett, Cameron Gardens, Freebird-Cooper, Iowa Park, Wichita Falls East and West also responded.

Several units stood by at local fire stations to respond to other potential calls in the city until additional help arrived.

The wind worked in the firefighters' favor by remaining calm. The Texas F orest S ervice p rovided helicopter water drops that w ere "very h elpful i n getting to some of the hot spots we couldn't get to," Weske said.

In addition to water drops, bulldozers were brought in from volunteer departments to create fire lines, which help keep the blaze from spreading.

Weske said this was important to stop the fire because the area is so dense and dry.

While residents in 100 homes were in danger, only 20 had to be evacuated. The streets were blocked off by Wichita Falls Police, and no one but the fire department was allowed into the firestricken area until the blaze was under control.

The fire department is still investigating the cause of the fire, however it is suspected that it originated under a utility pole located in a ravine.

Copyright 2011 Wichita Falls Times Record News
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