Port Neches firefighters cross county line in massive response scenario
Published 12:14 am Friday, September 1, 2023
Firefighters across Orange County were busy Wednesday battling three separate fires, one of which scorched about 20 acres of land.
Additional manpower was called in, including Texas A&M Forest Service, Sabine Neches Chiefs Association and the Port Neches Fire Department with a UTV with water skid.
Chief Matt Manshack, who is with Orange County Emergency Services District No. 3 and No. 4, said they began at a fire in Deweyville just east of Texas 87 on Highway 12 at approximately 1 p.m. Wednesday.
A second, small fire, occurred in the Little Cypress area, and the biggest of Wednesday’s fires was in an area between ESD No. 2 and ESD No. 4.
Response to the fires required coordination and cooperation.
ESD No. 4 and others were at the Deweyville and Little Cypress fires when the call of the fire on South Terry Drive near East Claire Drive came.
Firefighters split off to respond to the larger fire on South Terry Drive, Manshack said.
At least 30 people responded to the larger fire, including the Forest Service clearing land to create a break or containment line, and the Port Neches Fire Department.
Luckily no structures were lost, though the Deweyville fire did get close to an abandoned structure, Manshack said.
A burn ban in in effect in Orange County due to drought conditions.
Manshack asked for residents to respect the burn ban because the volunteer fire departments are struggling to contain the fires they have dealt with.
He said they have had calls of fires pretty much every day for the past two weeks, though most are small.
“It will only take one to turn into a large fire,” he said. “And people are still burning every day. We get calls of unauthorized burns multiple times a day. Sometimes six to seven, in the county probably 10.”
The fire near South Terry and East Claire led to bus transportation problems with campuses in Orangefield Independent School District.
The district posted information on social media Wednesday telling parents that some students would need to be picked up at their respective campuses.
Orange County Judge John Gothia said the county’s emergency management team is monitoring the fires.
Gothia said the best thing to do is not to burn anything due to the extreme dry conditions.
He said someone may say their fire is contained but embers can go up in the air, travel and cause a fire elsewhere.
He also advises not to throw cigarettes out of vehicle windows and not to park a vehicle in high grass.