Big Country

Camp Barkeley Fire: Forest Service crews released, local departments in charge

ECCA fire chief gives behind-the-scenes look of blaze that started Sunday

Camp Barkeley fire now 90-Percent contained

BUFFALO GAP, Texas - Wednesday, the Texas A&M Forest Service said the Camp Barkeley Fire is 90 percent contained. Forest Service crews have been released and local fire departments are now in charge.

Firefighters, many of the volunteers have been working endlessly to put out the Camp Barkeley fire northwest of Buffalo Gap.

ECCA Fire Chief Gary Young took KTXS on a tour of the fire ravaged area to see what firefighters are dealing with.

"You just do the best you can to survive the smoke and everything that's taking away your ability to breathe and see and still maintain safety and not get caught up in the fire," Young said.

For four days firefighters have had to navigate through rough terrain fighting the flames. 

"It's been a real challenge, it really has. We got some real dangerous areas here. Sheer rock drop offs and steep slopes," Young said.  

Ravines with burning embers have posed a big problem. Many times firefighters have to attack hot spots by hand carrying heavy backpacks because a truck isn't able to get to them.

Any smoldering areas need to be quickly extinguished before nearby brush catches fire. That's very difficult when you're dealing with more than 1,000 acres of land to cover.

"It takes everybody takes even little guys like me," said Buffalo Gap volunteer firefighter Joseph Palmour.

"All the departments around here pitching in on that stuff is the only way we can do this. No department has enough resources to handle these at all," said Young.

Then, there's the weather.

"The wind is always the variable at all of these," Young said. "And you just do your best to plan for wind and weather changes and just try to be in the right place at the right time. And sometimes it works out good and sometimes you get a change that you weren't expecting."

Firefighters have to get most of their work done when the sun is up.

"It's a lot easier in the day than it is at night. At night it really is tough," said Young.

Most of the firefighters are volunteers and they spend countless hours risking their lives.

"How long is the shift? Till you can't go anymore," Young said.

"I'm tired but happy, tired but happy," said Palmour.  

Many volunteer departments said they are struggling because they have to do their job with fewer donations and government funding than in past years.

"I donate every time the tone goes off. Donate my life every time the tone goes off," Palmour said.  

Firefighters will be on scene around-the-clock monitoring the situation and looking for any flare ups for at least the next several days.

Recent Headlines

Local Mugshots

Local News -