More than 5,000 acres in western Schleicher County, mostly on the Oglesby Ranch, were charred by a fast-moving wildfire on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately no one was injured and firefighters are not aware of any livestock lost to the blaze.

A series of fires, believed to have been started by a passing truck, possibly with a blown tire, or a chain dragging on the roadway, were reported along U.S. 190 at about 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 20th.

The Eldorado Volunteer Fire Department was paged out moments later with firefighters originally heading for a fire farther west, nearer the Schleicher/Crockett County line. That fire, and another inside Crockett County were quickly contained by firefighters responding from Ozona.

The easternmost of the three fires was the first one encountered by fire units responding from Eldorado. It was already being driven north by southerly winds gusting above 30 miles per hour.

“It was already big by the time we got there and it was growing by the minute,” Fire Chief Joey Jones later said. “There was a lot of fuel in the pasture, and that’s the downside of all the rain we had last year and earlier this spring.”

Jones said firefighters were racing northward to reach the head of the fire even as he called for assistance from neighboring fire departments. Units from Ozona and Sonora were the first to respond. Then the call went out for help from the Texas Forest Service.

“We tried our best to get in front of it and stay there, but it was a race and we pretty much had to give up on the flanks.” Jones said of the efforts on Saturday night. 

All of that changed on Sunday as more reinforcements arrived from Barnhart, Mertzon, Christoval, Pecan Creek and Wall.

The Texas Forest Service sent more resources too, including dozers, maintainers and engines (brush trucks) from San Angelo, Merkel and Fort Stockton.

“By the next day we had additional help and we started attacking it from the front and the flanks.” Jones said.

Assistant Fire Chief T.J. Rodriguez headed up the efforts on the south end of the fire while Jones continued concentrating on the north.

“We managed to stop in at a caliche road that extends west off of County Road 425,” Jones said.

All Eldorado fire units returned to the Fire Hall by the end of day on Sunday, July 21st with Texas Forest Service personnel staying behind to patrol the perimeter of the affected area to make certain that there no new outbreaks.

A closer inspection on Monday revealed that approximately 5,900 acres had been scorched by the blaze, with the majority of that being on the Oglesby Ranch.

“I think it spread a bit onto the Mertz 09 Ranch, but not much,” T.J. Rodriguez said on Tuesday.

Jones said the fire didn’t directly threaten any homes, although it approached within a mile of Mike Lloyd’s home. Several miles of fence were destroyed in the blaze, along with a heater- treater on an oil lease.

L.P. Nixon said Monday that earlier reports that Southwest Texas Electric Cooperative had lost some power poles in the fire were inaccurate. He said that while a couple of oil companies might have lost a few utility poles, SWTEC did not lose any.