By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
A wildfire on the southern shores of Stillhouse Hollow Lake led to evacuations of several small housing developments Tuesday.
The fire, which was 50 percent contained as of press time, sparked about 2 p.m. when an electrical transformer exploded, according to Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Mary Kay Hicks. It has consumed roughly 500 acres.
The blaze led authorities to block off a portion of Farm-to-Market 2484 for several hours. Officials also issued voluntary evacuations of two subdivisions near Union Grove Lane and Park Road off FM 2484. Though none of the homes were ever in danger from the fire, large amounts of smoke made officials worry for residents' health.
The fire initially split, spreading in two directions. Firefighters concentrated on the eastern portion of the fire, which was closer to homes. The western edge of the fire moved into Union Grove Park, where it consumed trees. Treetop fires could be seen from more than a mile away.
Southwesterly winds spread the fire but aided firefighters because they pushed the flames toward Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
Janelle Burson, owner of Janelle's Antiques & More, said that though the fire was no more than 500 yards from her store, she was not worried.
"There's no use worrying about it," Burson said. "If you can do something to help, then you worry."
The forest service deployed two planes from McGregor, which dropped a flame retardant on the fire around 5 p.m. Firefighters from nearly all departments in Bell County assisted with brush trucks, bulldozers and water tanks.
Hicks said that at 9 p.m., most firefighters left the area. They will return this morning to try to set up water lines and continue to fight hot spots and flare-ups.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.