Upshur County fires are contained, but danger remains high
by MARY L. KIRBY
Sep 22, 2011 | 1257 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby<br>
LES MORRIS, left, representing the Gilmer National Bank presents Nancy Hill, Secretary/Treasurer of the Upshur County Firefighters Association with a check for $2,500. Joining the presentation are, third from left, Michael Kuza, Chief of the Bettie Volunteer Fire Department, Phillip Wilburn, Asst. Chief, and Chief Jerry Taylor of the Gilmer Fire Department, and Fran Johnson, Gilmer National Bank.
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The Northeast Texas Fire Complex of 52,951 acres in six counties; Cass, Cherokee, Gregg, Marion, Rusk and Upshur, is considered 100 percent contained as of Monday afternoon, but the fire danger remains. The Rhonesboro Fire is considred part of the complex.

The older fires in Bettie (Toad Road), Clemantis-Dahlia and Diana were not listed.

A transformer was not involved in the start of the Rhonesboro fire as previously reported. A utility pole was found damaged, but there was no transformer involved.

Local residents sang praises when thunder, lightning and RAIN hit the area Sunday morning. A second wave passed through late Sunday or early Monday, depending upon the location. The one to two inches of rain over the area brought relief, but it was not enough to end the risk. A new fire was reported in Camp County Monday, but it was quickly contained.

“Although lightning activity was accompanied by rain we anticipate some potential new fire starts as temperatures increase,” said Assistant Chief Regional Fire Coordinator David Abernathy. “But even with this limited moisture, we can’t become complacent. Moisture is still dangerously low, and it will take significant precipitation in all areas to make a substantial difference. It is important to remember the burn ban is still in effect.”

Texas Forest Service and local volunteer fire departments are asking the public to continue to work on defensible space around their homes and property to lower risk in their community from wildfire. For additional information on defensible space and evacuation preparedness go to:

www.wildlandFireRSG.org and www.firewise.org

State Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) spoke with The Mirror about the fires as he attended the meeting at the Josephine Davidson Memorial Chapel Saturday.

“I cannot get over how people are still grilling and burning trash with all these fires around,” Hughes said. While he may not be Upshur County’s representative in Austin after the 2012 elections, at this point he still is.

“The mood in Austin last spring was fiercely antitaxes,” Hughes said in response to a question about cuts to rural fire departments. “All we were hearing was against raising our taxes.

“I voted against the cuts, but most of the people in the state live in urban areas,” he continued.

“We have an emergency reserve set aside for hurricanes,” he continued. “but nothing for fires. I am working to see that is changed.”
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