FORT HOOD — About 500 acres of Fort Hood’s training ranges erupted into flames Monday with high winds and low humidity making the fire difficult to fight.
Clouds of smoke could be seen for miles. Residents as far away as Temple reported falling ash from the grass fire.
Around 1:30 p.m. a 911 call notified the Fort Hood Fire Department of a large fire, said Billy Rhoads, Fort Hood fire chief. The fire began north of the Blackwell multiuse range, and created no threat to any homes or structures.
Aside from weather conditions, the fire’s location in the impact area made it difficult for firefighters to gain access, Rhoads said.
“There’s a lot of unexploded ordnance in the area,” he said, making it dangerous for firefighters in vehicles or on foot.
“Our plan of action for the rest of the evening is to continue to keep that fire break, and in the morning, if conditions allow, we will get out here and do some burn-out operations,” Rhoads said Monday night. By burning vegetation in the path of the fire, it could help stifle the blaze.
He said helicopters would remain on standby overnight and heavy equipment would remain on-site.
Several other small fires also burned on the training ranges Monday, Rhoads said.
Earlier this month, the fire chief warned of the potential for a busy fire season. Already this year, more than 160 acres have burned.
A late growing season means this year there is more “fuel” in the wildland areas of Fort Hood’s training ranges. Fuel can be scrub, brush and cedar trees, much of which is dead and dry from the freezes earlier this year, Rhoads said.
At that time, he also said the potential to encounter munitions is always on the minds of Fort Hood firefighters.
“Our biggest concern is not allowing firefighters to enter (the impact) area,” Rhoads said. “No grass fire is worth a person’s life.”