A wildfire in Palo Pinto County has consumed thousands of acres and prompted evacuations, authorities say.
The fire, dubbed the Dempsey Fire, consumed nearly 11,600 acres by Sunday in a rural area west of Mineral Wells and was still only 27% contained, the Texas A&M Forest Service said.
NBC 5 followed crews from Texas A&M Forest Service to get an up-close look at the scorched, smoldering land on Sunday.
“We got out there really early in the morning to try to take advantage of the high humidity and the winds low at the moment. We are expecting a wind shift and cold front to come through,” said Angel Lopez Portillo, Public Information Officer for Texas A&M Forest Service.
Lopez Portillo told us low humidity, and high winds caused challenges for firefighters on Sunday.
The thick brush fed the flames.
“That’s what causes the fire to grow. Local fire departments are not able to gain access to put them out when they’re nice and small,” said Lopez Portillo.
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The high heat could easily spark more potential fires.
“Because we are experiencing this dryness, if you are conducting any kind of activities that cause a spark, to have some kind of fire extinguisher or water container or something to put that out. and even have a spotter or someone who is watching what you’re doing to make sure they’re on fire watch,” said Lopez Portillo.
Some precipitation did fall on the fire this Sunday evening.
Crews will continue to try to reinforce containment lines with dozers and by burning out pockets of unburnt fuel through Sunday night.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"It spotted over the Brazos River in several places and made a few runs towards Grassy Ridge Road, but did not cross it," Mineral Wells Fire said in a statement. "The fire has been progressing in a northwest to west direction and is still a fair distance from Graford, FM Road 4 still remained closed from HWY 180 to HWA 254 throughout the day."
Crews continued working through Tuesday to contain the fire.
The wildfire forced families with homes and ranches nearby to evacuate.
The Palo Pinto County Sheriff's Office said evacuations were encouraged in the area north of U.S. 180, south of Texas 254, east of Farm-to-Market 4 and west of Texas 337.
"The Dempsey Fire has showed extreme fire activity as temperatures rose through the afternoon, the fire made a hard push to the northwest and has jumped the Brazos River and FM Rd," Mineral Wells Fire and EMS wrote on Facebook.
In a Facebook post, the sheriff's office said the town of Graford should be making preparations to evacuate.
Donations can be delivered to the Palo Pinto VFD at 620 Oak Street in Palo Pinto.
The Mineral Wells Fire Department said additional fire relief supplies can be dropped from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Well of Life Church parking lot, located at 2514 U.S. 180 in Mineral Wells. Items in need include:
- Sports Drinks
- Eye Drops
- Non-perishable Snacks (Protein/Carb based)
NBC 5's Yona Gavino contributed to this report.