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Police, fire departments respond to high wind calls in the Crossroads

By BY JESSICA PRIEST - JPRIEST@VICAD.COM
Feb. 25, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 24, 2013 at 8:25 p.m.

Thomas Young, with the South Texas Crane company, works to secure the canopy at the Pit Stop on North and Laurent streets in Victoria after wind gusts pulled it loose from its foundation.

First responders sprang into action Monday as wind gusts of up to 49 miles per hour downed trees, shook power lines and facilitated grass fires throughout the Crossroads.

Police were alerted that the canopy at the Pit Stop at the intersection of North and Laurent streets was leaning dangerously at 3:19 p.m. and blocked off the lane of traffic nearest the scene as workers steadied the structure.

"The last thing we want is for this thing to fall in the middle of the night and hit a house," Victoria Fire Marshal Tom Legler said, adding that the fueling station had not been used in about a year.

Legler said one metal leg of the canopy had come out of its foundation.

A company called South Texas Crane lifted the canopy, cut off its base and lay it on its side to dispose of later. VCM Signs Inc. assisted on the job.

"We usually do new construction or remodeling, not wind emergencies," Robin Jungbauer, South Texas Crane's office manager, said.

Jih Yu, who has owned the Pit Stop for almost two years, said a lot of people park under the canopy, so it is probably better to just take it down to be safe. He said he's contacting his insurance company.

Yu did not receive any citations from the city building inspections department about the issue.

A dispatcher at the Victoria Police Department, meanwhile, said the agency had responded to three calls related to debris in the roadway.

Police also responded to four burglar alarms after 3 p.m. They normally receive two calls about burglar alarms per day, but high winds rattling windows can set them off, the dispatcher said.

Also, David Phillips, the assistant fire chief for the Victoria County Fire Marshal's Office, said it battled three grass fires in Bloomington and Mission Valley. One of the fires torched up to two acres, but otherwise all of them were put out quickly, he said.

"The main thing is keep the grass around your house real short," Phillips said, giving tips on how to avoid the hazard. "Fires have a tendency to get bigger and faster than they normally would with the high winds."

National Weather Service Forecaster Douglas Vogelsang said a low pressure system that moved into the region at about 8:30 a.m. Monday from the Texas panhandle caused the unusually high winds.

He said Tuesday's forecast calls for a mostly sunny day with a high of 70 degrees and a northwest wind blowing between 10 to 15 miles per hour.

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