Chief: Bottle-Magnified Sunlight Ignited Possum Kingdom (TX) Fire
By TERRY WALLACE Associated Press
Sunlight magnified by glass bottles in an open garbage can ignited paper trash, starting a 500-acre (200-hectare) North Texas wildfire that destroyed five homes, fire officials said Thursday.
The July 18 fire on Possum Kingdom Lake’s western shore, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Fort Worth, took eight days to fully contain.
Chief Bonnie Watkins of the Possum Kingdom West Side Volunteer Fire Department found a trash can packed with party trash that included paper goods, food and numerous glass bottles, according to a department statement Thursday.
Watkins concluded that a wind gust opened the can lid, allowing sunlight magnified by the glass bottles to ignite the paper. The fire built rapidly until the fire spilled from the can and spread to nearby cedar trees, the statement said.
Rich Johnson, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, a nonprofit insurance industry association, said he had never heard of such a freakish cause for a wildfire.
“A fire started in a trash can is one thing, but one caused by sunlight magnified by glass bottles? That’s a new one,” Johnson said.
North Texas has been plagued by numerous explosive wildfires fostered by extreme drought conditions combined with temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and wind gusts.
Another fire that began the same day as the Possum Kingdom Lake fire continued to burn Thursday about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Fort Worth. However, a multi-agency firefighting team continued to make slow by steady progress in containing the Chalk Mountain Fire that has blackened 10 1/2 square miles (27 1/4 square kilometers), destroyed 16 homes and damaged five others.
In a statement, team officials said crews had improved containment from 50% to 53% from Wednesday to Thursday and crews suppressed a particularly stubborn portion of the fire with bulldozers Thursday. However, they also continued to strengthen fire lines and attack hotspots as conditions remained critically conducive to ignitions and spreading.
The cause of the Chalk Mountain Fire has not yet been determined.
See also  Idaho Forest Project Put on Hold Again

Topics

By TERRY WALLACE Associated Press Sunlight magnified by glass bottles in an open garbage can ignited paper trash, starting a 500-acre (200-hectare) North Texas wildfire that destroyed five homes, fire officials said Thursday. The July 18 fire on Possum Kingdom Lake’s western shore, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Fort Worth, took eight days […]

Get The Wildland Firefighter Newsletter

Related Articles

Fire Near Neah Bay (WA) Prompts Evacuations, School Closures

Fire Near Neah Bay (WA) Prompts Evacuations, School Closures

NEAH BAY, Wash. (AP) — A wildfire at the far northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula prompted more than 100 people to evacuate neighborhoods in Neah Bay on Thursday, and nearby schools have closed. The fire is burning on the remote Makah Indian reservation near...

Wildfire Burns Part of Southern OH Wayne National Forest

Wildfire Burns Part of Southern OH Wayne National Forest

PEDRO, Ohio (AP) — Officials say a 1,300-acre wildfire in Wayne National Forest in far southern Ohio began with multiple small wildfires earlier this week. A statement Thursday from Wayne National Forest said firefighters were working to contain the blaze and urged...