On Sunday, August 2nd, sometime in the late afternoon on the expansive 4K Ranch in McCulloch County, a small spark ignited into a huge flame and engulfed 300 acres that first day, now growing to 9,000 acres at the time of this writing on Tuesday, August 4th. Captain Jack Blossman of San Saba County Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) gave some valuable interview time over the phone for this article.
Captain Blossman stated local VFDs besides San Saba include: Richland Springs, Cherokee, Elm Grove, Pontotoc and Rochelle. Of course, Mills and McCulloch county VFDs are involved in the fire battle also. The Captain added the Texas A&M Forest Service and U.S. Forest Service have both been actively in charge by planning, directing, and supervising the operations and end results. Both Services called in ground and aerial units to assit in controlling and wiping out spreading fires.
Captain Blossman explained that VFD units were split into two divisions to fight fires - the west side and east side. Our local VFD units are fighting the east side fires, while McCulloch is battling the west side along with assistance of the Forest Services.
According to Blossman, firefighters are setting backfires to try to help stop the 4K fires, but it isn’t working like it should because there is so much fuel (dry grass, wood, etc.) to keep the big fires burning. In addition, the fires are about 12 miles out on the ranch’s land. At that point, it is so rocky and difficult to move about, the firefighters decided to actively fight the fire by letting it come to them. . . instead of traveling out to it and walking about over large, loose rocks that may cause falls or accidents.
As Captain Blossman neared the end of his phone interview, he said there has been about 40-50% containment of the fires at the time. He stated the scarce amount of rain Monday did not have any affect on the fires and only delayed the fighters from continuing their battle.
Firefighting plans continue to include helicopter and ground support by the Forest Services. Blossman added that the Red Cross has been at the site since Monday and has been serving food, snacks and water. Volunteers have also shown up onsite to help to all who are in need.
Captain Blossman answered my question about an injured volunteer firefighter as all he was aware of was someone received a head injury during a fall from a truck. He emphasized that’s all he knows about this incident. However, Captain Blossman stressed that everyone needs to be thinking and say prayers for this firefighter and his family, and pray for a quick, uneventful recovery. He added to please pray for all of the firefighters, Forest Service personnel, and volunteers, too.
Finally, Captain Blossman wanted to point out that after these fires are extinguished - supplies need to be replenished! He stated “We are supported by the county. . . after this is all over. . . we are going to need resources replenished - fuel, water, snacks. . . even the money we use for the annual steak supper. . .” Overall, the main thing that Captain Blossman wanted everyone to realize is they need to support their own VFD - be it, San Saba, Richland Springs, Cherokee, Elm Grove, Pontotoc or Rochelle (or any other county!). He also wanted to thank everyone in San Saba county for all of their support – verbal, physical, emotional, spiritual and financial – to the San Saba Volunteer Fire Department.
In conclusion, just to do a little damage control on rumors, and according to Randal Hawkins, no fire was started on the Billy Gibbons Boy Scout Camp at any time during the 4K Ranch fires.