Evacuations ordered, firefighter injured as fires scorch Texas landscape
Evacuations ordered for some residents in Taylor County, Texas, as the Mesquite Heat Fire burns 1,500 acres
A firefighter in Texas received burns while working to extinguish one of several fires burning in the Lone Star state, and officials warn there is the potential for more fires to break out in the region through the end of the week.
The Texas A&M Forest Service said any new fires that begin in the grass or other vegetation will "likely be resistant to control, as underlying drought and critically to extremely dry vegetation combined with 100-degree temperatures and periods of elevated to critical fire weather."
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The Texas A&M Forest Service said it responded to four fires that burned more than 10,000 acres across the state on Tuesday.
The Mesquite Heat Fire in Taylor County broke out Tuesday and has so far burned 1,500 acres and is only 5% contained.
The Taylor County Sheriff's Office said homes in the area had been threaded, and evacuations have been ordered.
As of Tuesday night, the evacuations included homes on CR-317/White Mines Road, homes on Braune Road and homes on Hidden Valley Drive. However, Braune Road and CR-317 have been reopened.
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The sheriff's department also said additional resources had been requested to assist in putting out the flames.
As of Wednesday morning, Hidden Valley Drive and Hillside Road remain closed to everyone except for first responders.
Another large fire burning in Texas is the Coconut Fire in Wilbarger County.
That fire is currently about 9,000 acres and about 30% contained.
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The Texas A&M Forest Service said the fire exhibited extreme behavior due to the dry, hot conditions and an increase in the winds.
A thunderstorm had developed near the area Tuesday night and caused a sudden change in the fire's behavior.
Around 10:30 p.m., a downburst from the storm caused the fire to erupt and impacted firefighters working to contain the blaze.
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One firefighter received multiple burns and was taken to a hospital to be treated and has since been released.
"Our thoughts are with the injured firefighter. Wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, and incidents such as this highlight that," said Texas A&M Forest Service Chief Operating Officer of Forest Resource Protection, Emily Wall. "The priority for Texas A&M Forest Service has been, and will always be, life safety of both the public and first responders."
Officials are warning anyone living or working in areas with an increased risk of wildfires to try and limit any activities that could cause a spark leading to a fire and to dispose of cigarettes properly.