We had a big fire yesterday in the little town of Spring Creek, just north of San Saba. It started around noon and the wind was blowing about 15 mph. I got there first with my tractor but due to the flames and heat, there was little I could do to even slow it down. The San Saba VFD showed up soon thereafter and we decided to move back and simply fight to protect the structures. Zane Weyerts showed up with his skid steer and he and I pushed the brush further away from the church as the fire department applied water. The flames were 22-25' tall and hotter than words can describe. Thirty feet from the church, we got it put out. The fire, at one time, was on three sides of the church and it was the first of many victories to come. The San Saba County Commissioners (Otis Judkins first then Ricky Lusty) showed up with the maintainer and quickly established a fire guard behind all the four houses and church and this was a huge relief. Richland Springs, Elm Grove, and Brady VFDs showed up next and we each took structures to protect. As Wade and I used our Polaris to lead the maintainers into the brush, we had to cut many fences to provide access. There is something morally wrong about cutting someone else’s fences, but we got over it pretty quickly and as more fire departments arrived, we quickly had trucks in the field trying to steer the fire away from town. As it burned east and further into ranchland, ranchers and cattle owners were desperately cutting fence and moving cattle ahead of the flames. At one time, we had eleven different VFDs on the scene and fighting. Soon thereafter, the Texas Forestry Service showed up with more dozers and a huge support staff. Brady brought over a semi tanker truck, along with San Saba’s, to refill the field trucks and we used the tabernacle as the base of operations. Then two spotter aircraft showed up and soon thereafter a huge water-drop helicopter arrived. The terrain was very rugged in places and even the dozers and maintainers couldn’t penetrate. Wade and I continued to provide direction and details from the point in the Polaris that provided useful as we knew the land better than anyone else. As the structures in Spring Creek appeared finally safe, the effort moved one mile north down the road to protect the other structures in the fire’s path. I have never seen such a coordinated and effective use of pooled resources in my life. Radios were jammed with activity and the aerial assault was working. Then the big daddy showed up—a huge jumbo water-retardant airplane came lumbering over the trees. It sounded like a freight train coming through the fire. As Wade and I grabbed the camera, the plane unloaded the retardant and literally covered us in a pink liquid blanket! If you don’t know, fire retardant is cold, pink, slimy and dries quickly! We looked like pink little girls as we laughed uncontrollably at the sight. The Polaris was originally green but now is pink spotted camo!
The US Army from Fort Hood showed up with four bulldozers, two tanker trucks and multiple ground vehicles and personnel. And then a double bladed helo carrying the water balloon bag arrived. At one time we had eleven VF Departments, FIVE aircraft, the US Army, the Texas Forest Service and untold numbers of ranchers and volunteers on this fire. It was incredible to witness for sure.
I have posted many photos to my Facebook page in the folder entitled "Spring Creek Fire 2011" that I hope you enjoy.
The list of folks to thank is so long and detailed I know I will miss someone. But first and foremost, I want to thank God personally and publicly because he allowed us to get this fire under control in six hours with no personal or structural damage. We were hard on equipment and drained a few local ponds with the helicopter drops but did what we had to do to get it stopped quickly.
Volunteer Fire Departments that I saw fighting this fire included San Saba, Richland Springs, Brady, Elm Grove, Voca, Brooksmith, Winchell, Cherokee, Lohn, Placid, Rochell and Goldthwaite. There were three different regions of the Texas Forest Service there as well as the US Army/Fort Hood and at least two different San Saba County Commissioners and their equipment. San Saba EMS was there to assist any potential injuring or heat exhaustion. Zane Weyerts lent valuable talent with his skid steer and there were others I didn’t recognize on their own tractors, ATVs and cattle spray rigs. Many folks, including my wife and daughter, donated cases and cases of bottled water and hundreds of pounds of ice. Eddie Ragsdale at G and R Grocery offered price breaks for all our liquid supplies and the town of San Saba poured out with calls and requests for donations.
As an individual, I want to thank everyone for their sacrifices, time, energies and caring. As a Spring Creek resident, I am not sure I can be more proud of this effort. This was an incredible show of support and determination that appears harder and harder to find these days. I feel comfortable speaking for the rest of the neighborhood here and taking my cap off to every single person involved with this project. It is great knowing so much support and friendship is out there when you need it the most. We really needed it yesterday and folks responded like I could not have imagined. Thank you to everyone that participated and you are in all of our thoughts and prayers. Job well done and you certainly made us proud!
Spring Creek Outdoors, LLC
San Saba, TX