Howard County Cleaning Up After Sunday Full of Grass Fires

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

HOWARD COUNTY--Fire crews were kept on the run for hours on end.  But the battle is far from over.

Howard County Volunteer Fire Chief Tommy Sullivan and his crews are tired and having to work in shifts, so they can get some rest. But when the sun rose on Monday morning, it was business as usual. Their main objective, keep things from getting anywhere near like they did on Sunday.

"Hundreds of power line poles are down. There's eight tank batteries that are still burning, right now. About 2 o'clock, we're going to go out and start extinguishing all those tank batteries," Sullivan said.

As if eight fires on Sunday wasn't enough, Howard County volunteer firefighters had a full agenda for Monday and the week ahead.

According to Sullivan, "(Monday) we are in, what we call, a mop-up phase. We still have a lot of hot spots from a lot of different fires. I have trucks working on those, putting out the hot spots near roadways or where there's fuel that could be re-ignited with the wind today (Monday).  Others that slept (Sunday) night, will pickup, where we can go rest today. Hopefully we can keep this up for the next couple of days and not have any major fires."

They've been able to track down the cause of fires that were responsible for destroying eight structures and acre after acre of grass land all across Howard County.

"The biggest part of the fires, that I've seen so far, have all been electrical infrastructure problems, power lines going down or snapping in the high winds," Sullivan explained.

During times of high fire danger, mandatory evacuations could be made at any time. Fire officials say it's best to be prepared ahead of time.

"I want people to have an evacuation kit, where they have their medications, dog carrier, pet carrier ready.  When we give the evacuation, they may only have 6-7 minutes to get everything done," Sullivan said.

Another way you can help firefighters out, keep grass and brush short and 50 to 100 feet from your home and property. The less fuel available, the less likely you'll see much damage by a grass fire.

"These fires moved so fast yesterday (Sunday). We can't fight those fires. All we can do is tell people to get out of the way," Sullivan added.

In case of evacuations, if residents decide to self-evacuate before being told, you should leave a note on your front door telling them your name, where you have gone and a phone number where you can be reached. It will help emergency management keep track of people and not think anyone was lost in the fire.