Abilene's NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Local News

Mesquite Heat fire in Buffalo Gap one of many stressing Texas firefighting resources

Steve Cunningham
Steven Cunningham took this picture of the Mesquite Heat fire Wednesday night from the southwest corner of Steamboat Mountain.

The Mesquite Heat fire in Buffalo Gap is one of several large, complex wildfires are being reported across Texas. These fires have a potential to exhaust state and local resources. The Texas A&M Forest Service has raised the State Wildland Fire Preparedness Level to Level Five, the highest level of wildland fire activity. At this level, all fire-qualified resources become available for response.

Taylor County issued a disaster declaration Wednesday and ordered mandatory evacuations around the Mesquite Heat fire. The evacuations affect residents of the city of Buffalo Gap as well as those on Country Place South to FM 89, Buffalo Gap West on Hwy 277, South of FM 1235, Hillside Rd., Denton Valley Rd., Braune Rd., CR297, and anyone in the vicinity of the fire.

The wildfire south of Abilene spread from 1,500 acres Wednesday to 5,000 acres by early this morning. Chief deputy for the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, Craig Griffis says volunteer firefighters from around the region are working hard to keep it from spreading further in the midst of low humidity, strong winds, and high temperatures. A Red Flag Warning is in effect until 7 p.m., with another very hot day, and near critical fire weather in store for the fire area on Thursday. The high temperatures will reach around 108 degrees, and relative humidity may drop to near 10%.

Chief Deputy Griffis says the fire has consumed several structures including at least ten homes, and he asks those who have evacuated to be patient and stay clear of the fire area, “We know a lot of people want to get back and see what damage may have happened to their properties, but this is a very dangerous situation that changes minute to minute. We would love to be able to get back in and see their properties and start to heal on this, but this thing is changing every minute and it is a very dangerous situation.”

Griffis also says emergency dispatch has been overwhelmed by calls, and asks the public not to call 911 unless they have a life-threatening emergency. He says residents can get regular updates about the fire by following the Taylor County Sheriff’s office on social media.