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High winds, dead vegetation, dumped items contributed to large-scale fire fight

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Posted at 10:17 PM, Mar 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-06 23:17:39-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A laundry list of factors made for a difficult, constantly-changing brush fire for area fire departments this afternoon.

According to previous reports, the Corpus Christi Fire Department received a brush fire call around 12:45 p.m. Saturday at an unincorporated area south of the old CC Speedway near Flato Road.

The fire quickly grew, expanding west toward a slew of industrial businesses along North Padre Island Drive, prompting Pull-A-Part to the north to temporarily close. Heavy industrial businesses along Flato on the east were also affected.

“Access was a huge problem with this fire because we had no access to this middle portion here,” Corpus Christi Fire Department battalion chief Robin McGill said. “Everything was fenced-in. And some of the fences actually had an electrical charge on them. Trying to get through those are, you know you got to cut the power to that if you’re going to decide to go through that particular fence or just going through a fence in general to get a vehicle through there is a little bit of work… What made it difficult also is that we had a wind change during that, so it was a very rapidly-moving fire.”

Around 4 p.m., McGill told KRIS 6 News that the fire had since been contained and that firefighters would continue to monitor the area.

“The only thing that burned were a few trailers and some of the lots, but most of this was discarded material and just brush,” he said, adding that there was no structural damage, injuries or fatalities. “So — great day. Very complex fire because of the size of the area that we are working and the wind changes.”

While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, McGill said the dead grass and vegetation from the bitter freeze contributed to an easier burning rate.

The area was also littered with dozens of tires. One volunteer firefighter said he had even come across a refrigerator. McGill said instances like that are avoidable.

“If you have trash, dispose of it the right way,” he said. “Don’t come out to a random field and then just throw the stuff out there — especially tires because they are very toxic to the environment, they burn, put off very nasty black smoke and then it’s difficult to extinguish.”

Although clouds of smoke still filled the sky early afternoon, Hernan Gonzalez, an employee at IRIS NDT — one of the industrial businesses to the west — was thankful for the response.

“Within five, 10 minutes — it started spreading pretty quick,” Gonzalez said. “The next thing you know, the fire department shows up and they get straight to work doing their job… Hats-off to authorities doing what they got to do to take care of it. Any emergency — they were on it quick.”