Disaster declared in Texas county as large wildfires continue to rapidly spread

Several large wildfires burning in Texas continue to rapidly grow and spread, prompting one county to declare a disaster and evacuate residents being threatened by the flames.

The Mesquite Heat Fire burning in Taylor County is currently at 5,000 acres and is only 5% contained.

The Texas A&M Forest Service warns that there is the potential for more fires to break out and will likely be resistant to control due to the extremely dry conditions, strong winds and 100-degree temperatures across the region.

The potential for large fires to occur through Friday includes the Western/Eastern Hill Country and Rolling Plains near the towns of Childress, Vernon, Abilene, Brownwood, Lampasas, San Angelo, Ozona and Fredericksburg, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Several areas of Taylor County have been evacuated, with the most recent being residents of Buffalo Gap, Denton Valley Road, Buffalo Gap west of Highway 277, south of FM Road 1235, Country Place south to FM Road 89, CR 297, Hillside Road, Braune Road and CR 257.

For the most recent updates on evacuation orders, click here.

The Mesquite Heat Fire is just one of several that are currently burning in the Lone Star State.

The Texas A&M Forest Service reports the following active fires:

  • Dry Branch Fire, Hamilton County: 4,000 acres, 15% contained
  • Buck Creek Fire, Frio County: 100 acres, 50% contained
  • Sandstone Mountain Fire, Llano County: 350 acres, 50% contained
  • Mesquite Heat Fire, Taylor County: 5,000 acres, 5% contained
  • Coconut Fire, Wilbarger County: 18,000 acres, 5% contained
  • Pope 2 Fire, Schleicher County: 2,530 acres, 50% contained
  • Slab Road Fire, Llano County: 57 acres, 90% contained
  • Johnson Fork Fire, Kimble County: 55 acres, 80% contained
  • Mayfield Fire, San Saba County: 1,250 acres, 40% contained

In addition, the Bowman Fire in Dimmit County has burned 57 acres but is 100% contained.

For the most up-to-date information on the fires, click here.

Another large fire burning in Texas is the Coconut Fire in Wilbarger County.

That fire is currently about 18,000 acres and about 5% contained.

The Texas A&M Forest Service said the fire exhibited extreme behavior due to the dry, hot conditions and increased winds.

Officials also said a thunderstorm had developed near the area Tuesday night and caused a sudden change in the fire's behavior.

About 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, a downburst from the storm caused the fire to erupt and impacted firefighters working to contain the blaze.

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," said Texas A&M Forest Service Chief Operating Officer of Forest Resource Protection Emily Wall. "Wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, and incidents such as this highlight that. The priority for Texas A&M Forest Service has been, and will always be, life safety of both the public and first responders."

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