Fire Captain Johnie Shahan said “it was just a little thing, only about 25 acres.” It was a little thing to Johnie but a really big thing to landowner Kevin Weinrich’s family and nearby property owners.
Weinrich’s property is toward the end of CR 132, past the Harmony Ridge Cemetery. He discovered the fire about 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, July 26th and immediately called 911. The crew of firefighters soon arrived. Veteran firefighter Jack Blossman served as incident commander. Other firefighters included Fire Chief Chris Stewart, Fire Captain Johnie Shahan, Fire Captain Chris Krueger, Fire Captain Mike Eden, Anthony Cantu, Scott Sanderson, Frankie Galindo, Rogelio Aguirre, Robert Carroll and Eric Morgan.
Firefighters believe the fire was caused by an electrical short on an ATV that melted part of the vehicle’s body and ignited the dry grass around it. The fire soon spread to both ends of the coastal field and then to the Colorado River bank. The fire ignited a number of hay bales. The firefighters brought three small grass trucks and two 5-ton military semis that the department converted for grass fire and water support. San Saba County furnished a road grader/maintainer. The growing fire threatened two structures but the preventive action taken by the fire team stopped its progress.
After the fire was contained, the crew spent several hours mopping up, circling the fire perimeter several times to assure that it would not re-ignite.
The San Saba Volunteer Fire Department is an indispensable part of San Saba’s public safety services. The 28-member volunteer department is always on call— 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These dedicated men spend their own time taking training at the Texas A&M Fire Academy and spend countless hours back home honing their skills. And, yes, these are the same volunteers who cook barbecue and organize street dances to raise the money needed to fund operations and purchase equipment.
The Fire Department suggests that property owners inspect their surroundings and eliminate potential fire hazards, including removing debris around their homes and other structures. They also encourage property owners to keep a water source available noting that even a small 3-gallon pump-up sprayer can make a difference when a fire is small. And, everyone is urged to call 911 as soon as any fire erupts. Firefighters would rather get turned around than wait until the fire gets out of control. Rural landowners should make sure that neighbors or the Sheriff’s Department have gate key codes so that firefighters can gain quick access to endangered property. More information about protecting yourself and your property may be found at www.txforestservice.tamu.edu.
Although no one was injured and this fire was relatively small, it served as a reminder of how important our fire department is. The fire department is always there for us and one of the ways we can show our appreciation is to donate money to the SSVFD to help supplement the funding they receive from our local governments.