The Texas Forest Service A&M reported that the size of the fire in Mesquite tripled on Wednesday night.
Taylor, TX – UPDATE (7:43 a.m. May 19): As of 7:45 a.m. Thursday, the Lone Star State Incident Management Team – Texas A&M Forest Service has not received updates regarding the Mesquite fire. The fire remains on the list of 5,000 hectares and eliminated 5 percent.
The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office said that at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 19, volunteer fire departments involved in putting out the fire will meet at Taylor County Barn 1 for a briefing.
District Judge Taylor Downing Balls issued a declaration of natural disaster on Wednesday afternoon.
UPDATE (22:41 May 18): Abilene’s representatives amended the evacuation order from Buffalo Gap. Residents are urged to stay away from their homes. Families should seek refuge elsewhere for the night. Officials will reconsider the evacuation order on Thursday.
22:35 – CISD Chief Jim Ned announced that classes in the county were canceled on Thursday, May 19th. In a message on social media, superintendent Glen Till said the forest fire had driven out many families. He asked for prayer for all who were in trouble and for those who were first responsible.
10:02 p.m. – The authorities of the city of Abilene say that the residents of Buffalo Gap, who were evacuated, can now return home. Officials added that those living on the west side of Buffalo Gap should remain on alert overnight because the hot fire in Mesquite remains a threat.
The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office will order additional evacuations for areas affected by the Mesquite fire:
- 21:10 – Taylor County has declared natural disasters for “widespread or serious damage, injury or loss of life as a result of zero forest fires spreading in the county.”
Judge Downing Balls Jr. signed mandatory evacuation orders from Buffalo Gap and surrounding areas.
21:07 – Evacuate the following areas immediately if you have not already done so:
- Buffalo Gap
- Denton Valley Road
- Buffalo Gap west of Hwy277
- South of FM 1235
- Country Place South on FM 89
- CR 297
- Hillside Road
- Brown Road
- 19:45 – Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams said in a Facebook post that about 1,000 residents had been evacuated from the Buffalo Gap area.
- 18:33 – The fire is rapidly moving east. It is recommended that residents in Buffalo Gap and nearby prepare for evacuation or evacuation.
- 4:01 pm – We are now evacuating Braune Rd from Hidden Valley to Hwy 277 and the entire CR 297. If you live in these areas, evacuate immediately.
- 3:43 pm – We are now evacuating homes on Brown Road between Hidden Valley Dr and Hillside Rd. If you live in the area, evacuate immediately.
- 2:29 pm – Brown Road between Hidden Valley Drive and Hillside Road closes.
- 14:20 – We encourage residents in the area of Brown Road and Hiden Valley Drive to prepare for evacuation or go ahead and evacuate. This is not yet a mandatory evacuation, but a fire is burning in the area.
RELATED: Donations are accepted into the Big Country Fire Relief Fund
UPDATE (10.00 May 18): According to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, the Mesquite Heath fire occupies approximately 1,500 acres and has now eliminated about 10%.
“The Forest Service has asked for additional services to help put out the fire, and because of the danger of conditions and housing, we are number one in line for further assistance,” – said in a release.
Officer Stan Lambert and Jody Arrington’s offices are working closely together to help, and all of the area’s fire departments are working seamlessly to fight the fires. Conditions improved overnight, but the fire could intensify later Wednesday due to rising temperatures and falling humidity.
Hidden Valley Drive and Hillside Road remained closed to all but emergency services. The forest service will be active in these areas.
Braune Road and CR 317 reopen.
AEP Texas is currently working to restore electricity to the affected areas.
Donations are not requested, TCSO said, however, if you want to make any donations, please do so at the American Red Cross or at Baptist Church View.
The Taylor County Expo Center helps provide housing assistance to livestock and pets.
TCSO has said it will release regular updates on its Facebook page.
UPDATE: As of 7:30 a.m. on May 18, the Mesquite Heath fire in Taylor County had killed 1,500 people and eliminated 10 percent.
Original story: Forest fires broke out again in West Texas on Tuesday, and by the end of the day at least four fires had broken out across the district. A fire that broke out along Highway 277 near View, about 13 miles southwest of Abilene, forced the evacuation of at least three communities.
The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office has posted on social media that homes in the following areas have been evacuated:
- CR 317 / White Mines Road
- Brown Road
- Hidden Valley Drive
A statement from the sheriff’s office on Facebook said officials did not plan to revoke the evacuation order and that people were not allowed into the area due to the high probability that homes were in danger. The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office also said lines 9-1-1 were crowded with calls to update the fire status. Authorities say that it is necessary to call 9-1-1 only in emergencies.
Officials are asking residents to seek refuge at View Baptist Church, 250 Boyton Road. The Taylor County Expo Center, 1700 Hwy 36, offers its stables to anyone who evacuates their horses from their property, which is threatened by a wildfire.
Four more fires broke out in West Texas on Tuesday. These include the Papa 2 fire in Schleicher County, the Johnson Fork Fire in Kimble County and the Mayfield Fire in San Saba County. In total, four forest fires burned more than 4,000 hectares.
This is an evolving story. Follow FOX West Texas live, online and in our mobile app to get the latest information.