By TERRY WALLACE
A two-day-old wildfire remained on the move Wednesday, with embers from burning tree crowns flying up to 200 yards, officials said.
The Chalk Mountain Fire near Glen Rose, Texas, had burned almost 10 square miles (26 square kilometers) of mostly short grass, brush and juniper as of midday Wednesday, the Texas A&M Forest Service reported. Sixteen homes were destroyed and five others were damaged, said spokeswoman Alexandra Schwier.
Temperatures approaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), combined with a relative humidity near 20% and 10-mph (16-kph) winds gusting to 20 mph (32kph), resisted efforts to contain the fiery spread beyond 10% containment, the Forest Service said.
“In these fuels, resistance to control is often high and makes suppression efforts challenging for firefighters,” said Luke Kanclerz, a Forest Service fire analyst, in a statement.
Ninety firefighters worked around the clock focusing on protecting structures and digging a containment line around the fire’s northeastern leading edge. Airdrops of fire retardant began Wednesday morning with a special DC-10 called a very large air tanker and two MD-80s called large air tankers dropping 60,000 gallons of retardant near that leading edge by midafternoon, Schwier said.
The fire extended into Hood County from neighboring Somervell County, where County Judge Danny Chambers has issued a disaster declaration because of the possibility of evacuations. A voluntary evacuation notice was issued for the county’s rural northwestern quadrant, and a no-fly zone has been declared for the entire fire area.
The Forest Service said that 99% of the state was experiencing some level of drought Wednesday.
Crews were also fighting a fire by air and on the ground at Possum Kingdom Lake, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Fort Worth. Fire crews had that two-day-old fire about 15% contained to about 500 acres (202 hectares), where at least five homes had been destroyed, according to the agency.
The agency used bulldozers to dig containment lines around the fire’s leading edge. Two crew members were treated for minor heat injuries and returned to service.