The Rockport (RVFD), Fulton (FVFD), and Lamar (LVFD) volunteer fire departments were dispatched to a structure fire in Fulton shortly after noon Tuesday, July 21, and then called at 1:15 p.m. to battle a large brush fire, off Jocelyn Road, between the Highway 35 Bypass and FM 1069.
“It was really two separate fires at first,” said FVFD Chief Rickey McLester. “One was off Jocelyn Road, and the other was in the vicinity of Smith and Johnson roads.”
After battling the fire most of the afternoon, with the aide of numerous area fire departments, local firefighters were called out during the night to battle hotspots. The flare-ups continued the next day, but were put out quickly.
The stubborn brush fire claimed at least four structures, including two residences, more than 100 acres of brush, and a FVFD brush truck.
RVFD Public Information Officer Gillian Cox said when firefighters arrived they found what appeared to be large piles of brush, debris, and trash on fire.
“The fire had spread, creating multiple spot fires due to the high winds and low humidity,” she said.
The State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the origin of the fire(s).
RVFD Chief Steve Sims said the area is covered with rotting debris from Hurricane Harvey.
“It made it a real challenge getting around (with the brush trucks),” he said.
Flat tires also created problems.
“Brush fires (under these dry conditions) burn crazy,” said Sims. “Add to that the Harvey debris. It burns in one direction for a while, then skips 100 yards away because of a hot ember blown to another area.”
He said firefighters are ready to respond to any hot spots if they flare up.
“The rain this weekend can’t come soon enough,” said Sims.
McLester said the FVFD has already received the donation of another 2-1/2 ton truck chassis on which a new brush truck will be built, as well as other donations.
“It’s amazing the response received after people learned we lost one of our units,” he said.
Even with the threat of a tropical storm in the Coastal Bend this weekend, McLester said, “With the dry conditions we’re experiencing I can’t stress enough how dangerous it is to burn anything right now.
“I hope we get enough rain, or I’m sure we’re going to have a burn ban (declared).”
The Texas Forest Service responded with ground and bulldozer crews to cut a fire line to prevent additional spread.
Five firefighters received minor injuries and were either treated at the scene or at nearby medical facilities, according to an RVFD press release.
Brandon LeBleu, leaning on a cluster of mailboxes on Sawyer Lane, said, “We watched it burn the house next to us (on Smith Road), and they told us to get out.
“I grabbed important papers and left. I’m sure it got our trailer home.”
Cox said a number of homeowners used personal heavy equipment and water hoses to protect their homes and properties as the fire raged.
“We thank everyone who was inconvenienced, not being able to get home, or to a friend’s home, or to just take your chosen route that day,” said Cox. “Your inconvenience allowed firefighters safer access to roadways. Thank you for your patience and consideration with law enforcement and volunteers who were trying valiantly to direct traffic.”
Personnel from the RVFD, FVFD, LVFD, ESD 1 in Annaville, Texas Forest Service, Bayside, Refugio, Woodsboro, Beeville, Aransas Pass, Ingleside, Gregory, Taft, Portland, Tri-County and Allegiance EMS, the Aransas County Sheriff’s Office and DPS troopers and DPS helicopter responded to the scene.