Firefighters from four departments responded to a wildfire on SH 105 west of Cleveland around 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22.
According to Cleveland Fire Chief Sean Anderson, two acres of grass and woods caught on fire before the blaze was brought under control.
“The fire was on a hunting lease by the gravel pit across from Cornerstone Church in Cleveland. It got into the trees, but we were able to keep it from spreading any further,” Anderson said. “We have a dozer crew with Texas A&M Fire Service that is manned right now at our fire field on the east side of town. They were able to respond quickly and cut a fire line into the woods.”
The fire was started by a group of homeless people living in the woods, Anderson said. When firefighters arrived, those responsible for accidentally setting the fire had fled the scene.
Anderson said Cleveland Fire Department currently is responding to an average of 20 calls per day, including fire calls, auto accident calls, medical calls and mutual aid requests.
“We are going from one call to the next, assisting Plum Grove and Tarkington fire departments. This time, they had to come assist us with this fire,” Anderson said.
Firefighters with the East Montgomery County Fire Department also responded to the wildfire in Cleveland.
Around the same time, Liberty County ESD No. 7 (Hardin Fire and Rescue), Cypress Lakes VFD and North Liberty VFD firefighters were responding to another wildfire on CR 2552 in the Snake River Subdivision off of SH 146 north of Moss Hill. This fire may also have been set by a homeless person living in the woods, according to ESD No. 7 Chief Nic Nelson.
“It looked like it started as a small campfire in the woods. We are not 100 percent sure if it was set by a homeless person or kids. It ended up burning a little more than an acre,” Nelson said.
Three homes, including one unoccupied mobile home, were threatened. The fire came perilously close to the mobile home, but the wind was in the firefighters’ favor as it pushed the fire away from the house.
“My guys got there and were able to put it out before it grew bigger. The neighbors were there trying to put out the fire with buckets of water when we arrived,” Nelson said.
All totaled, ESD No. 7 responded to five spot fire calls on Tuesday alone. One was reported on FM 1011, another on CR 2095, two on CR 2094 and one near the intersection of SH 105 and SH 146 in Moss Hill.
“It appears to us that these fires are being set by people carelessly discarding cigarettes. Please, please, please stop burning,” Nelson said. “Every firefighter in this county is tired. Please stop throwing cigarettes out your car window. Any small spark can cause hundreds of acres of damage.”
If you want to help out local firefighters in your community, donations of water, Gatorade, Powerade, peanuts, snacks and crackers will help with hydration and provide a little pick-me-up to the firefighters. Plus it will also boost their spirits to know that the community’s residents support their endeavors.