• August 20, 2014

Spread of fire halted

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Posted: Friday, September 2, 2011 12:00 pm

By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD - The 1,500-acre Jack Mountain fire on Fort Hood's range continued to burn late Thursday, but Fort Hood firefighters no longer fear the fire spreading.

Fire officials reported Thursday that the fire was 60 percent contained. Firefighters from the 41st Fires Brigade and Fort Hood Fire Department continue to battle the blaze along with aerial assaults from the Texas Forest Service.

Fort Hood officials have indefinitely suspended artillery training exercises believed to have sparked the fire Tuesday morning.

"We thought it prudent given the continuing extreme weather conditions, lack of forecasted rain and increased winds expected with the coming autumn," Fort Hood spokesman Tyler Broadway said, relaying a message from Fort Hood officials.

Power has been restored to most affected facilities and West Range Road has been reopened.

Large fires now have been largely reduced to smoldering areas known as hot spots. Though small flames may flare up, the lack of plant matter remaining to spread the fires reduced the urgency of efforts by Fort Hood firefighters, Fort Hood Fire Department spokeswoman Lacey Eide said.

"Hot spots are going to potentially burn for a long time until fuel runs out," Eide said.

Part of the problem in fighting the fire is its location.

The remaining center of most fire activity remains in the impact area or dudded area, a part of the range where tanks and other artillery are fired.

Firefighters have been prohibited from entering the area because unexploded ordnance lines the area.

A helicopter from the Texas Forest Service made continual rounds Thursday into a valley south of Jack Mountain, spraying the fire from above.

Electrical service has not been completely restored to some classrooms and storage facilities near Jack Mountain and Clabber Creek ranges. When some power poles burned, power was cut to those buildings.

Broadway said power will not be restored until the fire is completely extinguished or fire officials feel the affected areas are safe for the Directorate of Public Works to make repairs.

Firefighters also lit several controlled burns.

The practice - known as back burning - burns off plant life to deny a fire fuel to spread, Eide said.

More than 100 firefighters responded to the fire.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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