Fire Departments Work Hard to Save Homes in J.C. Fires

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

From: Blanco County News

On Friday, September 2, the Johnson City Volunteer Fire Department was called out to an 80-acre fire in Pedernales Hills.

"It was a heck of a fight," said J.C. Fire Chief Roy Burdett, "with Forestry doing air drops and assistance from Blanco, Round Mountain, Hays, Willow City, and Stonewall."

"In an amazing team effort these guys managed to save over 20 houses," Burdett reported. "They painted one house red with the flame retardant and worked diligently to directly save three or four other houses. One of which had flames just beside the carport."

The Texas Forest Service provided a single engine air tanker, tankers, and a heavy chopper out of La Grange. On Saturday, the Texas Forest Service sent out four engine crews from California, Wisconsin, and Alaska that were all close by to help in getting things cleaned up.

On Sunday, firefighters were once again called out to a smaller fire on RR 3232 that was started by some power lines. They had help from Hays, Blanco, and Round Mountain fighting that fire and managed to keep it down to just a few acres before they squashed it.

By this time they had already had one fighter go down with a torn knee ligament and two down from the heat.

On Monday afternoon they were out once again to the county line at Fall Creek Road and Highway 71 to help keep the Pedernales/Spicewood fire from spreading and squash over a dozen spot fires that kept popping up. One fighter was transported to the hospital due to smoke inhalation.

They were fighting this one without air support because all the air support was stretched thin trying to get a grip on the fire in Bastrop. The Fire Corps ladies provided food and supplies and Hobbs Tires was out there acting as the fire department’s pit crew as tires were being blown left and right. Once again the firefighters managed to save over a dozen houses.

“We’re just in sync. We all take it very personal. Every single house counts and we don’t want to lose any of them,” stated Fire Chief Roy Burdett. “North Blanco County EMS is essential in what we do. They are right there beside us on every fire taking care of our crew and working hand in hand. Ben Oakley has been tremendous in helping me run command.”

The Chief said they are calling it the “Storm & Swarm” because if “you call us for help, we aren’t just sending one truck out, we’re coming with everything we’ve got.”

 Burdett also pointed out that people shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that a break in the heat is going to make much difference. “Heat is only one small factor. I have been doing this for 22 years and I can remember, one February, we had 88 fires. This isn't going to slow down just because the weather is a little cooler.”

The Johnson City Volunteer Fire Department also responded to assist with a fire just east of Marble Falls, as well as sending three brush trucks to Edward County to assist with a fire in Junction.

Overall, everything for the JCVFD seems to be in good shape. They have one brush truck down and they are working to get it back up as soon as possible. They have a total of 11 pieces of equipment, including those five brush trucks, two tankers, two rescues, one pumper and one 75-foot aerial. There are also 28 volunteers who have been working back-to-back fires to keep these things under control.

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