Thursday, September 8, 2011
Plano firefighters help combat Bastrop wildfires
The Plano crew will stay in Bastrop until the fire is out or they are relieved.
With some of the most severe fires to ever hit the state burning out of control, a group of Plano firefighters is doing its part to help douse the flames.
An engine crew from the newly-opened Fire Station No. 13 deployed last Thursday. The four-person operation is currently fighting the Bastrop fire, its third fire in the past week.
Plano is part of a 40-plus city task force made up of departments from Collin, Hunt and Rockwall counties. When a call went out last week for departments to assist with the Possum Kingdom fire, Plano was one of the departments that answered.
Four Plano firefighters, plus an engine and water tender, left and went to the Possum Kingdom area to assist with the 101 Ranch fire. When that fire was contained, the team went to Austin and assisted with the Steiner Ranch fire near Lake Travis. Then, on Monday, the task force was moved to Bastrop and assist with the fire that some are calling the worst in state history.
Holly Huffman of the Texas Forest Service said the Bastrop fire was about 30 percent contained as of Wednesday morning.
"The fire has now burned over 33,000 acres," she said. "The firefighters were able to get in and make some headway on Tuesday with the winds dying down. Most of the fire's forward progress has been stopped but there is still intense burning in the interior of the fire."
The Plano crew will stay in Bastrop until the fire is out or they are relieved, which could come later this week.
"If the team is not back by the end of the week, we will likely send four fresh guys out," said Kelly Helm, a battalion chief with the Plano Fire Department. "With wildland fires, teams typically work a minimum of 12 hour shifts. However, I heard from our guys they are working 16-18 hours at a time."
Helm said Plano firefighters typically battle more structure fires than they do wildland fires, but all firefighters receive training in wildland fires at the academy. He said the captain who is leading the team of four recently completed a wildland fire course.
Huffman said the fire is being fought from the air and the ground, with a total of 336 firefighters and more than 100 law enforcement officers assisting in the efforts. The fire has burned at least 785 homes and killed two people.
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
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