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Rekindled Magnolia Beach fire under control again (video)

By Elena Watts
June 29, 2013 at 1:29 a.m.
Updated June 30, 2013 at 1:30 a.m.


Update: Sunday 5:28 p.m.

Firefighters battled a flare up on Sunday afternoon in Magnolia Beach near J&T One Stop convenience store in Calhoun County.

It took an hour to get the fire under control after it flared up from the Saturday grass fire, said Magnolia Beach Volunteer Fire Chief Chad Tamlin.

No one was injured, and no structures were damaged in the fire, but the gas station in Magnolia was threatened by the flames until it was redirected by the wind.

Magnolia and Port Lavaca firefighters were also on the scene Sunday about 11 a.m., when residents first started to report hot spots catching fire.

Tamlin said about 300 acres burned Saturday afternoon, coming within feet of Matagorda Island Liquid Separation Plant, which contains natural gas, Tamlin said.

Saturday 11:40 p.m.

Firefighters in Victoria and Calhoun counties endured intense heat Saturday afternoon as they worked to douse two brush fires, one of which threatened to explode a gas plant.

In 100-plus weather, crews battled a blaze that charred about 350 acres in DaCosta in Victoria County, threatening homes and sending up flames and smoke that were visible for miles. No serious injuries were reported in either incident, and fences were the only items that were burned.

City of Victoria and Victoria County fire departments received the call about 12:30 p.m. and battled the blaze with volunteers from DaCosta, Mission Valley, Bloomington, Placedo, Lone Tree, Quail Creek and Victoria College Fire Academy until about 6:45 p.m.

Leita Farms provided heavy equipment, including a bulldozer that was used to cut a firebreak, or barrier, around the flames.

Victoria County Fire Marshal and Chief Ron Pray said the fire started as a result of a controlled burn that got out of hand. The wind changed, and embers caught a tangle of thick rose hedge on fire.

"It can be a thankless job, but there was a big outpouring here," Pray said. "Every time I stopped to answer a question, I was handed Gatorade or water."

Farther east in Calhoun County, Shawna Webb watched flames creep across the field from the J&T One Stop convenience store, where she works in Magnolia Beach.

She left the town with her two daughters and three dogs to go to Port Lavaca when the police scanner reported the fire was getting dangerously close to Matagorda Island Liquid Separation Plant.

Volunteer firefighters from Magnolia Beach, Port Alto, Port O'Connor, Six Mile, Seadrift, Port Lavaca and Cape Carancahua doused flames that covered between 50 and 60 acres in Magnolia Beach. The fire, which started about 2 p.m., was under control by 5:30 p.m.

Tom Andrews, president of the Magnolia Beach Volunteer Fire Department, was first on the scene. An old, abandoned corral had caught fire, which spread quickly to surrounding brush. Bar ditches filled with water surrounding the blaze made access difficult, but a brush truck from Port Lavaca finally succeeded.

The blaze had spread inside the gas company fence, which firefighters had to cut to enter. Officials evacuated residents of Alamo Beach and Magnolia Beach because of the danger.

"We would like to thank countywide first responders who helped avert what could have been a real disaster," Andrews said.

He also advised visitors to pop their July Fourth fireworks between the crabbing bridge and Indian Point on Magnolia Beach.

"This is an example of what can happen," Andrews said.

The fires occurred on a day with record-breaking temperatures.

Victoria's high temperature Saturday was 109 degrees, which was hit about 4:20 p.m., said Alina Nieves, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi. The heat index was 111.

The temperature set a new June record for Victoria. The previous record of 102 was established in 2009.

Goliad's high temperature also was 109 and was recorded about 6 p.m.

The high in Port Lavaca was 104, set about 3:30 p.m.

Weather officials are calling for a slight chance of thunderstorms for Victoria on Sunday and into Monday.

The high for Sunday in Victoria is expected to be in the upper 90s and in the mid-90s for Monday and Tuesday.

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