Firefighters battle midnight blazes

Firefighters battle midnight blazes
DISTRICT 1 FIRE/RESCUE "” A grass fire "” likely sparked by fireworks "“ scorches its way across several acres near Sutherland Springs around midnight New Year’s Eve, keeping District 1 Fire/Rescue crews busy as Wilson County residents welcomed in 2018. The blaze was one of three grass fire calls within minutes of each other that night.

It was a blazing start to the new year, as firefighters battled two fires in the Sutherland Springs area around midnight on New Year’s Eve.

As many prepared to raise their glasses in a toast, District 1 Fire/Rescue teams raised fire hoses to quell two separate fires, said Chief Chris Thompson. District 2 Emergency Services (in the Eagle Creek and northwestern Wilson County area) also got called out about the same time, he said. All, Thompson said, were likely caused by fireworks as area residents celebrated.

The three grass fire calls came in within moments of each other.

One near Sutherland Springs, Thompson said, was fairly small. One truck and crew responded and soon had the fire under control.

A second fire, near U.S. 87 and 4th Street just outside Sutherland Springs, burned about 5 acres, the fire chief said. The winds accompanying the freezing temperatures were a concern for the crews. The blaze got “fairly close” to a mobile home; however, firefighters were able to contain it.

Overall, Thompson said, it was a “pretty quiet” weekend across the county for the fire departments.

District 1 Fire/Rescue finished 2017 with 393 calls, the chief said. In 2016, the department handled 269.

When the department gets equipment established in Sutherland Springs, it will have four stations serving its area, which extends from Kicaster and La Vernia in the north, to Sutherland Springs in the south, and east to the Guadalupe County line.

And, Thompson said, “In great cooperation with District 2 Emergency Services and District 3 EMS, District 1 is now providing first responder service for both EMS organizations.”

District 3 EMS (based in the Stockdale area) currently provides emergency medical coverage for the La Vernia and Sutherland Springs areas, since Wilson County ceased its contract with the La Vernia Volunteer Ambulance Service (La Vernia EMS) in November.

District 1 has four trucks equipped as first responder vehicles and now officially is recognized by the state of Texas as a first responder organization. Its emergency medical technicians and paramedics are serving as first responders throughout its service area.