BLUNTZER, Texas — Around 11 a.m. Friday, fire crews were dispatched to Bluntzer for a brush fire. The fire was started when flames from a resident’s fire pit caught some nearby brush.
Annaville Fire Chief Michael Clack said about 10-15 acres of land were burned in the approximately two hours it took crews to get the blaze under control.
Clack said 8-10 abandoned vehicles were burned, and three structures were lost; one of which, was a house that Clack believed to be abandoned for quite some time.
Friday’s fire was not something new for Clack and his department. He said the department has averaged three fires, and 30-50 acres burned a day for the last week or so. On Monday alone, crews responded to five calls.
“I started at 2:30 a.m., and I didn’t finish the last one until 5:30 (p.m.). It was one after another, we never made it to the station at all,” Clack said.
Clack added the reasoning for many of the fire calls has been dry brush caused by the recent freeze.
“People think because there’s not a whole lot of wind, it’s safe to burn because the humidity is low, and the grass is all dead,” he said.
Friday’s call was a mutual aid from the Bluntzer Fire Department. Bluntzer, like Annaville, has also been busy recently.
“The past two days, we’ve responded to four calls,” Public Information Officer Rene Guerra said. “All of them driven by out of control burns, and the low humidity and dry grass.”
Responding to so many calls in a short time frame can become overwhelming for departments, especially those who rely heavily on volunteers to make up crews.
“We do have about 12-15 active volunteers, but the struggle is this time of day, everybody is at work. So, we get maybe three to six people to come to the calls,” Guerra said. “I guess you could say we’re doing okay, but certain times we do need the help from other departments.”
One of the other departments who called for help Friday is the Agua Dulce Volunteer Fire Department, who sent a crew of two.
“During the week, people have jobs, and on the weekends you have to allow people their own time, so it makes us pretty short,” Jay Behrens, a commissioner for Nueces Jim Wells ESD #5, said. “A district the size of Dulce, we have to rely on Bluntzer, Annaville, Robstown, Bishop, Alice. We all work together.”
There is currently no burn ban in Nueces County. Guerra said if the county commissioners implement a burn ban, it could help local rural departments by possibly decreasing the number of fires.
“I think something that would be really helpful is the burn ban getting voted in. It would sure be helpful if that got voted in at the next meeting,” he said. “If we could get that implemented, it would be a great deal of help.”
Some local departments, like the Beeville Fire Department, have been requesting supplies that can be distributed to firefighters when they’re battling fires.
Clack, Guerra, and Behrens all said donating any supplies to your local fire department will always be appreciated.
“Anytime you can help your volunteer fire departments by dropping off rehab supplies, Gatorades, waters, snacks; those things are very beneficial,” Clack said.