RUSK COUNTY, Texas (KETK) — In Rusk County, first responders battled three fires on Wednesday. The National Weather Service issued a fire danger statement urging people to avoid outdoor burning because of the dry conditions and high wind gusts.

Two storage buildings and part of a travel trailer were destroyed in a fire that officials said was started by a trash fire that got out of control.

“Just because it’s cooler, it doesn’t make it any safer to burn. So, we have to be really responsible when we are having fires,” said Rusk County Emergency Management Support Specialist, Michael Searcy.

Witnesses said the fire occurred around 2:18 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.

Crews from the Rusk County Fire Marshal’s Office, Henderson Fire Department, New London Volunteer Fire Department and Carlisle Volunteer Fire Department were on the scene to put out the fire.

Power was knocked out to several houses just southwest of Henderson due to the flames. This is just one of many fires first responders have battled this week. 

“Fortunately no one’s primary property was damaged. The damaged properties were storage buildings, trailers, and things like that. Unfortunately, we do see that the fire was caused by outdoor burning,” said Rusk County Fire Marshal, Terry Linder.

Despite Rusk County not being under a burn ban, fire officials are urging people not to do outdoor burning just because of the drop in humidity.

“In the last week, it’s really picked back up to about six or seven fires a day, that’s county-wide. But, we know that if it stays this dry and the humidity stays low… the number can elevate really quickly,” said Searcy.

The fire that sparked has devastated the residents and left them without many family heirlooms, photos, and even future homes for a growing family.

“Just a lot of pictures, a lot of dishes that I had put up, and Christmas décor that I won’t be able to put out again. My grandkids just loved it and now I won’t be able to show them those decorations no more,” said Henderson resident, Mary Copeland.

Out of all that was lost, the Copeland family says that is just grateful that no one was hurt. But, many heirlooms like military awards and tactical gear from when her son was in the military are now gone.

“Now, we just keep on going and we’ll make more memories that are even better. That’s one positive thing to look forward to… the land is cleared,” said disabled veteran, Michael Terry.

As for the Copeland and Terry families, they are asking the community for assistance in the cleanup.

If interested in lending a helping hand, please contact Michael Terry at 903-258-8649.  

Earlier on Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a fire danger statement due to elevated fire weather conditions in the area from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The weather conditions will support the spread of wildfires, officials said. Residents are urged to not burn outdoors and participate in any activities that cause sparks or flames.

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