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No rest for weary firefighters

April 30, 2011

HERALD Photo/Thomas Jenkins Firefighters look to douse the northeastern-most edge of a blaze that began on N. Salem Road Friday afternoon. Emergency responders from the Howard County Volunteer Fire Department — which was in the process of responding to three separate wildfires at the same time — and the Big Spring Fire Department were able to keep the damage to approximately 75 acres.

Friday might be a time when most employees in the Crossroads area look toward the relaxation of the weekend, but that's a very unlikely scenario for firefighters with the Howard County Volunteer Fire Department and Big Spring Fire Department.

Firefighters with both agencies were kept busy Friday, as wildfires and grass fires in an around the Howard County area continued to threaten a number of homes and structures.

The HCVFD responded to fires on Highway 350, McGregor Road and Salem Road throughout the day, with firefighters from the BSFD assisting on many of them. According to County Volunteer Fire Chief Tommy Sullivan, high winds and desperately low moisture levels have kept emergency responders busy during the past several weeks.

“We lost about 75 acres on the Salem Road fire, but it could have been much, much worse,” Sullivan said Friday as firefighters brought the blaze under control near a dirt road. “The fire began at a home about a half-mile from where we got it stopped.

“It's a good thing this dirt road was here. It served as sort of a natural fire break for us. On the other side, to the north, is a ridge that drops off into a valley. If firefighters hadn't been able to stop it before it got into that valley, we could have lost 30,000 acres or more.”

Sullivan was quick to point out the vital assistance provided by the BSFD in helping to bring the fire under control.

“There are a lot of places in Texas where the volunteer fire departments and city fire departments don't work well together. Howard County isn't one of them,” he said proudly. “The BSFD firefighters were able to get to this edge of the fire, which was critical to being able to stop it before it spread out of our control. They did a fantastic job.”

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