RUSK COUNTY, Texas (KETK) — Crews responded to three fires in Rusk County that officials believe were caused by illegal burning, two of which resulted in “out of control wildfires.”
Wednesday afternoon, the Elderville-Lakeport Volunteer Fire Department responded quickly to a fire on FM 1716, near Lee’s Creek Grocery and Grill, according to Rusk County Fire Marshal Terry Linder.
“I’ve had three calls for burn ban violations, two of which, like the one we’re on today, escaped their enclosure. We had a burn pile and looks like probably some burn barrels here that were left unattended, and as the day gets hot and the wind starts, they easily get out of control,” said Linder.
He said that the fire started when a burn pile or burn barrels were left unattended.
Linder said that the fire burned close to the back of the house on the property, which caused some burning and melting of siding. Texas A&M Forest Service is on the scene of the fire putting in a plow line.
Linder thanked the Elderville-Lakeport Volunteer Fire Department for their work in saving the house. A nearby RV was also saved from the fire.
Rusk County Office of Emergency Management said that the fire resulted in about three acres of burned area. Fire officials on the scene said the fire is currently 100% contained but winds could cause it to start back up or jump the plow line.
“We can’t have any outdoor burning, for reasons like you see today, we saw yesterday in Smith County, and hopefully this doesn’t continue but it looks like it will,” said Linder.
Officials said that there is a separate fire in Rusk County near Tatum that was also possibly caused by illegal burning. Rusk County is currently one of the 26 East Texas Counties that are under burn bans.
Violation of a burn ban is considered a class C misdemeanor and could be punishable by a fine of up to $500. Authorities are still investigating to locate those responsible for the fire.
“We’re going to have to take a zero-tolerance approach to burn ban violations,” said Linder.