Firefighters battle ‘nervous’ blaze in 50-mph winds

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Volunteers had to fight their way through dense brush, heavy smoke to attack Monday fire at northern end of Allday Street. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Volunteers had to fight their way through dense brush, heavy smoke to attack Monday fire at northern end of Allday Street. Reporter/Mike Brown “It’s been a long time since I was nervous at a fire, but I don’t mind telling you I got nervous at this one.”

That was veteran firefighter Ward Roddam, Rockdale VFD fire chief, after a quick spreading brush fire—fueled by 50 mile per house winds—roared through a wooded area north of Allday Street on Monday.

The fire, which was difficult to locate and difficult to reach, was reported at 5:19 p.m. and got within 150 yards of a pair of homes but quick responding Rockdale and Thorndale fire- fighters, along with some heads up action by a neighbor, brought the situation under control.

Smoke from the fire was jetted over the length of Rockdale by the high winds and the acrid burning aroma was actually stronger in the downtown area than locations closer to the blaze.

REPORT—A resident of Miller Street, still a half mile from the actual fire, first reported the smoke at 6:19 p.m.

Volunteers tracked down the blaze to Allday and found neighbor Jeff Noack, who has acreage at the north end of Brazos, already on the scene, using a backhoe to create a firebreak which aided the RVFD in its efforts.

About 30 minutes later volunteers from Rockdale and Thorndale— called in after the RVFD had a problem with one of its pumpers—had the fire under control.

And everyone breathed a sigh of relief. “It was the wind,” Roddam said. “It was really blowing hard and was taking the fire straight toward town.”

There are a number of homes in the area. Closest to the fire were those of Arlyn Hammett and Dr. Steve Daniels.

STUMP—Roddam said it’s believed the wind played the major role in starting the blaze.

“An area resident had burned some brush a couple of days earlier,” he said. “Apparently there was one stump that still had hot ash inside. That wind kept working on it and fanning it, like you’d do embers in a fireplace and finally off it went.”

A brief re-kindle of the fire sent volunteers back to the site at 8:09 a.m. Tuesday.

Several trees were reported felled by the high winds Monday afternoon in various locations around Rockdale.

Other fire calls during the past week dispatched from the Rockdale Police Department included:

• 6:40 p.m. Feb. 19, trees on fire (controlled burn), east of Milano, Milano VFD.

• 12:58 p.m. Feb. 20, breaker box smoking and arcing, 2012 Sager, Rockdale VFD.

• 7:09 p.m. Feb. 20, electric pole sparking, Elliott at Quinn, Thorndale, Thorndale VFD.

• 7:51 p.m. Feb. 20, belt fire, Three Oaks Mine, southeast of Rockdale, Rockdale VFD.

• 8:17 p.m. Feb. 20, large fire reported on FM 1712, turned out to be a controlled burn which was not called in to the police station, Rockdale VFD.

• 1:23 p.m. Sunday, pasture fire, County Road 358, Milano and Gause VFDs.

• 11:39 p.m. Sunday, natural gas leak, Walmart, Rockdale VFD.

• 7:03 p.m. Monday, tree on fire, 503 East Salty, Thorndale VFD.

In addition to fires, the Milano VFD responded to a medical call 5:48 a.m. Sunday and the Thorndale VFD to a medical call at 7:51 p.m. Sunday.

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