Denton County Wildfire Exhausts Local Departments

Wildfires stress volunteer departments

Denton County fire departments fought on Wednesday a massive grass fire sparked by a piece of farming equipment.

The fire, which moved quickly because of high winds, burned around 700 acres near Pilot Point. It took nearly 20 departments to put out the fire.

Firefighters said a piece of farming equipment that cuts hay started the fire.

"Someone wasn't illegally burning," Pilot Point Fire Chief Heath Hudson said. "It wasn't any mischief involved. It was just farmers trying to harvest their crop. We weren't all that concerned, initially."

Pilot Point firefighters said the fire started in a small area, something they thought they could handle alone. But they knew it would a different story when they arrived at the scene and saw the wind conditions.

"The wind changed and began to increase -- kind of outran our trucks," Hudson said. "We were trying to reposition and call for additional units. We couldn't get them fast enough."

Hudson said it is a common challenge for small departments when fighting wildfires.

"The guys are trained very well," Hudson said. "The problem we have in rural departments is manpower."

Hudson said wildfire season typically starts in June or July, so this fire came early. He said he is concerned about the rest of the season.

Residents said they are grateful for the teamwork.

"I would have to thank them," Tyler Roberts said. "They saved several houses."

The wheat fields near his home burned in the fire.

"It's shocking," he said. "It was all wheat out there."

"I saw flames and mass hysteria, basically. It was crazy," Roberts said.

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