40-acre wildfire on US 59 Sunday required three-county response

Smoke can be seen above the trees along US 59 north of Cleveland on Sunday as a wildfire burned.

Firefighters from three different counties battled a 40-acre wildfire between Cleveland and Shepherd Sunday afternoon along US 59 and the Union Pacific Railroad line. The wildfire was actually multiple spot fires that appeared to have been set either by a passing train or vehicle.

It took approximately six hours for firefighters to bring the blaze under control. The fire jumped the tracks in some areas, sparking some fears that it might spread in the wooded area along the tracks, but firefighters, working with the Texas A&M Forestry Service, kept the fire from spreading.

According to Cleveland Fire Chief Sean Anderson, the fire may also have been started by lightning. As if the fires themselves weren’t enough to manage, firefighters also had the threat of lightning and high winds to deal with as a storm system pushed through the area.

“We had a lot of fires yesterday because of lightning strikes. We were making calls all over the north end of the county because of lightning. We left that wildfire along US 59 and went to Low Water Bridge Road because lightning had struck a tree and caught it on fire,” Anderson said. “We have been averaging around 20 fire calls a day lately because of the drought.”

In speaking of rain deficits, Anderson said fire agencies are no longer discussing it in terms of inches.

“We are past being inches behind in rain. When you are getting up to 36 to 40 inches behind, you start talking in terms of feet of rain,” he said.

Responding to the wildfire along US 59 Sunday afternoon were Cleveland, Tarkington, Camilla, Plum Grove, Shepherd, Bear Creek, East Montgomery County, North Montgomery County, and emergency management departments from Liberty, San Jacinto and Montgomery counties.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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