Grass fire burns about 4,000 acres

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Officials estimate 4,000 acres of Curry County grassland burned during a Sunday fire north of Clovis. Firefighters from multiple departments worked more than 11 hours to extinguish the blaze, the cause of which has not yet been determined.

Sharna Johnson

About 4,000 acres of grassland burned north of Clovis on Sunday, causing severe damage to one home.

The cause of the grass fire is still being investigated.

Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman said there were no injuries and no loss of livestock but there was damage to fences and gates, particularly in areas where fire personnel had to cut through fence lines to gain access.

Starting east of Ned Houk Park around noon, Westerman said the fire burned a near 7-mile by half-mile from Curry Road H to about CR D, which lies east of State Road 209.

The damaged residence was located in the area of CR G and 19, he said.

While grassland within the park was impacted by the fire, Westerman said the areas set up for public use such as picnics and playgrounds were unscathed.

After more than 11 hours, firefighters — with units assisting from Pleasant Hill, Texico, Bovina and Parmer County as well as county road crews and other agencies — cleared the scene, he said.

High winds Sunday contributed to a more difficult fire scenario.

“Any fire yesterday wasn’t going to be little,” Westerman said.

Wildland Fire Coordinator David Kube said the fire was a large one for Curry County, in which the typical size of grass fires ranges from 500 to 1,000 acres.

“Compared to what they had in Texas, it’s a small fire but for Curry County it’s a large fire,” he said.

Firefighters battled blazes near Amarillo through Sunday night and had contained them by Monday, authorities said. But crews were preparing for new wildfires Monday in the central and southern parts of the state — including and around Austin, San Antonio and Houston — because of the low humidity, warm temperatures and very dry conditions, said Texas Forest Service spokesman Lewis Kearney.

More than 70 homes and 110,000 acres burned in west Texas, and an estimated 190 square miles of grassland burned statewide.

The fire near Amarillo was ignited by a spark from a metal grinder, Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas said. Austin Lynn Stephens, 52, who was not supposed to be in the field where he was cutting pipe, was arrested a criminal trespassing charge, Thomas said.

Sunday’s blazes were aided by 70 mph wind gusts, but weaker winds Monday allowed crews to contain the fires.