Fires in Calhoun County keep sky gray

By Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Aug. 24, 2012 at 3:24 a.m.
Updated Aug. 25, 2012 at 3:25 a.m.

Friday was a smoky day in Calhoun County.

Firefighters are working to control a blaze at a cotton gin in Calhoun County.

Officials responded to an emergency call about 1 p.m. Friday at the Moreman Community Gin Association on state Highway 35, Calhoun County Sheriff B.B. Browning said.

When they arrived, 21 cotton modules were on fire. Each module contains about 15 bales of cotton, Browning said.

The sheriff's office, the Port Lavaca Fire Department and various other volunteer fire departments in the county responded to the call.

Browning said they won't be able to put out the fire, but they are working to control the blaze.

"When one of those cotton modules catches on fire, it's almost impossible to stop it," he said. "They just have to burn themselves out."

Port O'Connor residents also had a smoky day Friday after a shift in the weather caused smoke from a controlled burn on the northern tip of Matagorda Island to drift over the community.

The smoke, a brownish gray from burning saltgrass and brush, came into town about noon, Port O'Connor resident Mickie Vossler said. Vossler could smell it inside the house about 12:30 p.m. and it blanketed the whole town, she said.

"It was basically covering the whole town," she said. "You walked outside, all you could smell was smoke."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services were burning 2,300 acres on the island, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Project Leader Dan Alonso said.

Fire is a part of the natural cycle of land, Alonso said. The agency conducts such burns to regulate the fires and make sure they don't burn out of control. Every section of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is burned every one to three years, Alonso said.

A great deal of planning goes into each burn, he noted, and weather is a strong factor in determining whether a burn can occur. The weather was supposed to be good for conducting the burn on Friday, but an unexpected weather change caused the smoke to go the wrong way, he said.

"All of the parameters were met when the burn started, but a weather anomaly allowed the fire smoke to carry over into the community," Alonso said.



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