A controlled burn at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge is producing a large amount of smoke that can be seen from Portland and Key Allegro, witness reports indicate.
The wildlife refuge's Zone Assistant Fire Management Officer Scott Asseldt told KRIS 6 News that Thursday's controlled burn began at 10 a.m. and burned 1500 acres.
The burns began last week in an attempt to improve coastal prairies and the park's whooping crane habitat.
He said crews have finished for the day, and that continuing the burns tomorrow will be dependent on weather conditions, but if weather is optimal, they will be working in a small portion of the Refugio-area territory.
Rockport Volunteer Fire Department spokeswoman Gillian Cox said it is only one of two fires being reported in the area.
A accidental brush fire also reportedly began at around 3:45 p.m. between Bayside and Taft, in Aransas County. Multiple fire departments currently are battling the fire in an attempt to stop it from spreading to nearby homes.
"The fire started in Aransas County, but it split the county line and went into San Patricio," said Rockport Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Kenneth Reeves.
Reeves estimates the fire affected anywhere from 40 to 50 acres of brush and saltgrass, based on drone footage. He said no homes were affected, but several vehicles and a small trailer burned in the fire.
"We did have a couple of structures in danger at one point, but we were able to get the trucks and resources in there to put the fire out before it was able to infringe upon it," he said.
Fire departments from the area responded to help, including Aransas Pass, Gregory, Ingleside, Refugio, Rockport, Bayside and Portland.
Reeves said there were a few inmpediments to getting the fire under control.
"There was a lot of soft areas out there, so a bunch of our bigger trucks ended up getting stuck, which slowed us down in the response," he said. "And then we also tried to pull trucks in the daytime, and a lot of people are working, so ..."
Leo Miller Road is closed in the area, and residents who live along County Road 188 are being asked to be careful in the area, because fire trucks are using hydrants in the area. Reeves also said tankers were brought in for more water supply.