Mineral Wells Area News

PK West Fire Chief Pens Letter to Community;Explains Cause of 1148 Fire

PK West Fire Chief Pens Letter to Community;Explains Cause of 1148 Fire
July 28
13:58 2022

An Open Letter from the Possum Kingdom West Volunteer Fire Department:

Possum Kingdom West Volunteer Fire Department (PKWVFD) wishes to
thank all of the 131 Texas A&M Forest Service (TAMFS) personnel and TexasIntrastate Fire Mutual Aid System response team for assisting us with the 1148 Fire.

The seven-day fire began around noon on July 18th and was finally
conquered on Sunday, July 24th.
We would also like to thank the 46 other firefighters from Palo Pinto, Young and Stephens Counties which includes the 14 firefighters from PKW itself. They all worked in temperatures in excess of 110 degrees to climb 30-to-45-degree angled hills with heavy vegetation and flying hot embers in 20 mile an hour winds to fight fire in an area that might have bested a mountain goat. Their professionalism and determination defeated our 1148 Fire.

The initial fire assessments of PKW Assistant Chief Brent Nance and his
quick call to County Emergency Services Coordinator, Misty Garland, were responsible for the immediate response of the air attack resources along with Palo Pinto Mutual Aid Departments and TAMFS personnel. His swift actions held the predicted 10,000-acre fire to the lesser 500-acres in which the 1148 Fire was eventually controlled and extinguished.

Initial objectives of PKW Operations Chief, Terry Watkins, were to protect the lives and property of Possum Kingdom West residents by preventing the fire from crossing FM 1148 to lake shore properties. All early responding units moved north on FM 1148 to extinguish the fire whenever it attempted to jump the road.

One PKW brush engine was over-run by the rolling fire while attempting to defend the five residences that were regrettably lost. The two PKW fire fighters had to abandon their brush truck by escaping to a nearby dock. They were rescued by a Texas Game Warden’s patrol boat.

The following volunteer departments who participated in the 1148 Fire
attack were Possum Kingdom East, Graford, Newcastle, Eliasville, Breckenridge, Brazos, Palo Pinto, Mineral Wells, Santo, Lake Palo Pinto, Lone Camp, Young County and Stephens County.

On Tuesday, July 19th, the second day of the fire, PKW Chief Bonnie
Watkins, began an investigation to determine the cause and origin of the fire. At FM 1148 and Hawkins Road, she found a trash can packed with party trash consisting of paper goods, food and numerous glass bottles. A wind gust caused the trash can lid to open. Fire needs three elements to grow – oxygen, fuel and
heat. The wind provided the oxygen. The sun provided the heat. The loosely packed paper goods and food provided the fuel.
The sunlight was magnified through the glass bottles till it reached ignition temperature. Once ignited the fire built rapidly. It vented out the side and top of the trash can causing nearby cedar trees to ignite.

This accidental fire could have been prevented simply by placing a large rock on the top of the trash can lid or by keeping all glass bottles separated in their own container. This would have prevented the sun from magnifying heatthrough the glass bottles in the first place thus removing the ignition source and stopping the fire.

Trash can fires have also been started by placing any of the following items in with the trash; hot coals, oily rags, fireworks, tightly packed garden waste and hot ashes.

The Texas fire season is not over yet folks so let’s all continue to be vigilant. If you see signs of a fire don’t assume someone else has
already called 911. The faster we arrive on scene the less chance the fire will turn into a disaster.

Please help us to keep you fire safe. We are always looking for new
volunteers to join our fire family. If you are able to help in replacing our old equipment, our current goal is to replace two worn out brush trucks.

We are dedicated to fire service excellence. Your cash donations will go a long way in helping us to accomplish that goal.

Chief B. Watkins

Possum Kingdom West Side Volunteer Fire Department

4809 Green Acres Road

Graham, Texas 76450