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Broken-down car, dry conditions cause 35-acre fire at 1431 and 1980

Tobyville fire

High winds and dry conditions fueled a 35-acre fire ignited by a vehicle Aug. 9 that continued to smolder into the next day in an area off RR 1431 and FM 1980 west of Marble Falls. Courtesy photo


TOBYVILLE — Investigators blamed the heated underside of a broken-down vehicle for sparking a 35-acre blaze Aug. 9 just off RR 1431 near the intersection of FM 1980, also known as Tobyville Road.

The fire started about 3:30 p.m. that day and raced into the adjacent brush, fed by the dry conditions.

“The vehicle was about three-fourth of a mile west (of Tobyville Road) on RR 1431, where it looks like they had a flat tire and pulled off of the road. From what we discussed with law enforcement, the catalytic converter started the fire in the grass,” said Assistant Chief George Tennison of the Marble Falls Volunteer Fire Department.

“It makes it worse when you pull off to the side of the road with a hot exhaust system because everything on the roadside at this time is just as dry as everything out in the pastures.”

Volunteer fire departments from Bertram, Burnet, Cassie, East Lake Buchanan, Hoover’s Valley, Oakalla and Spicewood assisted with containing the blaze along with crews from Horseshoe Bay, Marble Falls, the Texas Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We put a dozer line around it. At about 10 a.m. on Monday (Aug. 10) morning, it was still smoldering. It is contained in the black, but we have several fire units still on the ground,” Tennison said. “Luckily, we have no threats to businesses or houses.”

The fire burned just west of the Trimac Transportation facility at the FM 1980 intersection.

“It’s got a lot of cactus, a lot of dead cedar, oak and mesquite. It’s got a lot of undergrowth that grew up because of the recent rainy season,” Tennison said.

If conditions persist, crews could remain on the scene checking for hot spots for the next 24-48 hours.

“The weather is what made this fire challenging. The relative humidity yesterday afternoon was about 18 percent. Winds are out of the east-southeast at about 15 miles per hour, which was pushing the fire,” he said.

An expected drier-than-normal forecast for the next 18-24 days has prompted a word of caution from fire officials, who anticipate increased fire danger.

“The best thing to do is be very careful when you pull off to the side of the road. Try to find a spot where there’s not very much grass,” he said. “As far as cigarettes, please put them out in the ashtrays. Don’t throw them out the window.”