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Spark believed to be cause of fire

April 26, 2012

A spark from a passing train is being blamed as the cause of a wildfire that erupted west of Big Spring Wednesday afternoon. Hundreds of acres were scorched in the blaze, but no injuries were reported. (HERALD photo/Amanda Moreno)

Volunteer firefighters battled a blaze west of Big Spring Wednesday that scorched hundreds of acres but did not result in any injuries or significant property damage.

A spark from a passing train is the likely cause of the fire, which began around noon Wednesday near Bates Road just west of the Big Spring city limits.

“After that, the winds picked up the fire and pushed it in several directions,” said Tommy Sullivan, chief of the Howard County Volunteer Fire Department.

Hindering firefighters' efforts was the lack of easy road access to the blaze. In addition, a pile of dead salt cedar trees, which had been cleared to make way for an oilfield road, caught fire and became a “super-hot” spot that the firefighters could not get close enough to douse.

Aside from nine HCVFD units involved in the blaze, volunteer units from Martin County and Lenorah soon joined the battle, and bulldozers from the city of Big Spring were called in to make fire breaks and impromptu roads for fire trucks.

Nine hours after the first call was received, the fire was finally extinguished, Sullivan said.

Except for some torched power lines, there was no significant property damage. Also, no injuries were reported, Sullivan said.

With the recent onslaught of high temperatures and prevailing dry conditions, Sullivan fears more wildfires are on the way.

“This is just a precursor. With us having 100-degree days in April and May just around the corner, I'll probably be requesting that the county judge re-institute a burn ban in the next couple of weeks,” Sullivan said.

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