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SMITHWICK — Firefighters entered their second day of fighting a stubborn 60-acre blaze on the Double Eagle Ranch Sept. 5, trying to keep it from reaching nine homes.

The fire started Sept. 4 as a flare-up from a much smaller blaze officials thought was extinguished Aug. 30. About 40 percent of the fire at CR 343 near the branch-off to Camp Creek Recreation Park was contained by noon Sept. 5, firefighters said.

One dilapidated outbuilding was destroyed, officials said. Fire crews continue working to protect nine homes in the area, but no other damage or injuries were reported.

“It’s very rough terrain and it’s hard going up in there,” said Chief Terry White of the Marble Falls Area Volunteer Fire Department. “Wind conditions today are worse than they were (Sept. 4). We’re watching it very closely because with the wind, it could easily jump around.”

Low humidity, high winds and extremely dry conditions are contributing to a rash of Central Texas wildfires during the Labor Day weekend, safety officials said.

The Double Eagle Ranch fire originally began Aug. 30 and was contained to about five-and-a-half acres.

Officials said they believe the fire started when a bulldozer struck a rock and threw a spark.

Fire units returned to the location the next day for a flare-up and have been monitoring it ever since.

A United States Fish and Wildlife Service crew was at the location during the day Sept. 4 watching the embers, White said, but they had to go back to their headquarters at the Balcones National Wildlife Refuge between Marble Falls and Lago Vista for equipment repairs.

“About the time they got back to the (refuge), the fire re-ignited around 4:30 p.m.,” White said. “We’re not sure what happened, but with conditions as they are it doesn’t take much. It went from five acres to almost 60 in a matter of minutes.”

At the time, Marble Falls volunteer crews were assisting other agencies at a major wildfire in the Paleface Ranch and Pedernales River area in southwest Travis County when the Smithwick blaze broke out again.

“We were called off that one to come back here,” White said.

The chief said many of his units remain at the Smithwick blaze.

“We’ll be out here all day, and probably on through the evening,” he said.

Along with the Marble Falls volunteers, units from Horseshoe Bay, Marble Falls Fire Rescue, Granite Shoals, Spicewood, the Texas Forest Service and USFWS have assisted at the Smithwick blaze.

Several of those departments have also sent units across Lake Travis to the Pedernales River blaze.

Officials said that fire has burned at least 6,400 acres and damaged at least 24 homes.

 

daniel@thepicayune.com