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Large fire claims palm tree farm near Robstown

Palm tree fire near Robstown being investigated
Posted at 5:14 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 19:23:24-05

A large fire affected 100 acres near Calallen and Robstown.

The fire was reported near County Roads 69 and 44, north of Robstown, claiming most of a nearby palm-tree farm.

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Robstown Asst. Fire Chief Javier Zapata said his department was dispatched at 2:57 p.m. Monday.

"Once we got here, we called for more resources," he said. "We had eight different agencies out here helping us out with brush trucks. That's the only way we can get in there."

Witnesses nearby said that when they drove by to see what was happening at around 3:20 p.m., they were trapped among the melee of bystanders who were watching as the fire spread quickly.

"A lot of palm trees weren't even on fire yet," said Jenna Carpenter, who lives in the area. "By 3:50 p.m. we were watching palm trees that weren't on fire when we got there turn to ash."

The Corpus Christi Fire Department, Odem, Robstown, Kleberg Co. and Nueces Co. ESDs No. 1 in Annaville, No. 3 in Bishop and No. 4 in Bluntzer all helped to control the blaze.

"We actually have a fire chief association that ... we meet every three months," Zapata said. "So we have a mutual-aid agreement with all the surrounding areas: We ask for help, and whenever they need our help, we also respond for them."

For instance, Nueces Co. ESD No. 1 was able to help control the fire by what's called "backburning:" firefighters set a controlled fire downwind that backs up into the main fire, burning off its fuel source in the process -- in this case, brush.

It took just under two hours to put out, and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire still is under investigation, and the owners of the tree farm are still being contacted.