Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Possum Kingdom wildfires resembled a war zone...

Clifton – Over the past few weeks, David “Batman” Snyder sent two truckloads of volunteer firefighters – a six-man crew - to Possum Kingdom two times.

Their mission: to at least try to help channel the out-of-control burn that engulfed homes and everything else in its path.

He shakes his head, says, “I don't know how it started...The funny thing is, how come FEMA and all that bunch didn't do something to help out?”

One of his crewmen, a man who made the trip to battle the blazes both times, told him that, though he's never been in a war, he has seen a lot of them on television. Truly, it is a war between men and machines and the chemical reaction of fire in which flames can leap from treetop to treetop and race before the hot summer winds at a terrifying pace, only to descend to ground level and attack grass and brush when the tree line yields to more open prairie.

“He said that's what it looked like, to look out there, especially at night, and see it all just going up in smoke.”

Mr. Snyder has had long service with the volunteer fire department, and he's seen a lot of changes.

“Back 15 years ago, we used to have a lot of fires along the railroad. They keep their right of way cleaned out a lot better than they used to.” Today, he says, the Santa Fe is much more scrupulous about controlling underbrush and grass.

In the past, hot journal boxes and sparks from rolling stock often started disastrous fires during the hot, dry seasons.

Transmission wires still cause trouble. Exploding transformers spew hot oil, which ignites dry brush and grass when electrical emergencies occur.

On Monday, a crew battled an out of control brush fire at Walnut Springs to a standstill, a project in which every volunteer fire department in rural Bosque County worked all day long to control what could have been a disaster.

It all costs a lot more money these days, Chief Snyder explained.

Fuel, the main item, is up by huge percentage points, but all other items are sky high as a result of a devalued dollar and hard times.

The department is hosting an all-you-can-eat fish fry on Saturday, June 25, at Womack Hall. The starting gun will resound at 5 p.m.

Donations are $10 at the minimum.

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