Large grass fire near Florence destroys one home, injures a firefighter

Hotspots continued to flareup Friday, and fire crews spent the day knocking them down.

The fire started Thursday, and by late Friday officials calculated that 251 acres burned just east of Florence near Hwy 195 and Chris Lane.

“Very thankful, very thankful for the fire department. I believe we had four or five fire departments responded, the sheriff's department, the first responders, they are my friends,” said rancher Tom Burdett.

Burdett owns a big part of what caught fire.

“It’s unavoidable sometimes, my information is a powerline broke, hit the ground sometimes it’s beyond him control when those things happen,” said Burdett.

RELATED: 76 homes evacuated due to 200-acre grass fire in Florence

County officials say a little more than a dozen area fire departments responded to the call out. Initially, more than 75 residents were evacuated, but fire officials Friday said about 30 to 40 were actually at risk of catching fire. One family’s mobile home did catch fire and was lost. There’s concern that this fire could be just the first in a long line of calls this season.

“If you see any type of smoke call 911 if it doesn’t turn out to be anything that’s fine. If it does then maybe will get a quicker start on it because the conditions we are in right now, it only takes a spark, the flareup into an incident like this.,” said Fire Chief Robert Shelton.

Along with the fire crews, there were two other things that factored into the containment: aircraft and people. Drone video by the Williamson County Sheriff's Office recorded the fire as it burned Thursday afternoon to help identify nearby structures and residents like “Bear” Clanton.


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“About three patrol cars were in my front yard, my wife and my mother-in-law lives with us and we evacuated them,” said Clanton.

Clanton stayed to help fight the fire. The air support, he said, included helicopter water drops. The eight passes were crucial. But even more impressive was how his neighbors rallied together.

”All the neighbors, it was unbelievable, all the neighbors, with all the tractors, that could move round bales, all the round bales were behind the house, was between the fire and the house, if those round bales would have caught fire, the house would’ve gone, all the neighbor showed up moved the hay bales away from the back of the house, a wonderful job,” said Clanton.


That kind of neighborly help continued Friday at the incident command post in Florence. Residents brought firefighters coupons for dinners and bottles of water to help them stay hydrated.