Rockdale fire situation: So far, so good
Rockdale’s volunteer firefighters answered 12 calls Saturday and Sunday as strong winds from a cold front triggered major fires to the north and south of the Rockdale area.
None of the fires in the immediate Rockdale area were serious, but that wasn’t the case in neighboring Cameron or in Bastrop County.
The RVFD was called to assist in Cameron where fires that were traced to a flaming squirrel destroyed a home, several sheds and about a half-dozen cars.
In Bastrop County, an estimated 500 homes were destroyed, including the home of Rockdale native Bill Headrick Jr. and his family.
CAMERON—The Rockdale VFD was called to Cameron at 2:52 p.m. Sunday to assist in battling numerous blazes which raced through six acres of that city, spread by 40-mile per hour winds.
“I’ve been fighting fires for more than 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like it, former RVFD Chief Warren Matous told The Reporter.
“At one point we were fighting a big grass fire, looked behind us and the wind had blown the flames into a home and caught it on fire,” Matous said.
No injuries were reported. Cameron officials said an eyewitness saw a squirrel on power lines catch fire and race through a field, setting blazes which were then spread by the wind.
ASSISTANCE—Closer to home Sunday, RVFD volunteers were called out to two incidents originally reported tree limbs on power lines. One of those turned out to be a television cable and the other did not result in a fire.
The RVFD was originally called to a fire on CR 314 caused by power lines arcing in trees. The Tanglewood VFD responded.
Monday morning, Rockdale volunteers were called to aid the Tanglewood VFD at CR 314 and 314B until Bartlett Electric Co-Op arrived on the scene.
Rockdale volunteers were also called to four grass fires on Sunday.
HOME LOSS—Bill Headrick Jr., a 1979 Rockdale High School graduate, and wife Sylvia fled their home in Bastrop County’s Circle D area just minutes before Sunday’s fires roared through.
“ They are okay,” mom Betty Headrick in Rockdale, told The Reporter. “But they lost just about everything.”
Grandchildren Melissa and Bill III were staying with grandparents Bill Sr. and Betty in Rockdale and were not at home.
“Bill Jr. and Sylvia called us about 1 p.m. and the power had gone out and they could smell smoke,” Betty Headrick said. “ Then they called us back and said the sheriff had told them to get out now, not to even try and save anything.”
The couple saved their dog, a purse and a computer.
“ The kids didn’t even have anything to wear to go back to school,” Betty Headrick said.
Among the items lost were several vehicles including a classic 1957 Chevrolet.
“Of course it’s a terrible thing,” she said. “They got to go back as close as their front gate Tuesday and there is nothing left. But they’re all okay. None of them got hurt.”
COOL- OFF—Ironically, the same cool spell which triggered the disastrous fires brought substantial relief from the recordbreaking heat spell which has gripped Texas since June.
Monday’s high in Rockdale was only 91, down 15-20 degrees from highs during the past two weeks.
Lows dipped into the 50s Tuesday morning.
Predictions call for highs only in 90-degree range through the weekend.
But, predicted rainfall failed to materialize, as a tropical storm came on-shore in Louisiana, taking moisture eastward.
At midweek, no substantial rain chances are being forecast for the next few days in the Rockdale area.