Spark turns into one-acre brush fire

Canyon Lake Fire/EMS crews respond to a brush fire in the Royal Forest subdivision that charred less than an acre of land before it was contained. The fire started when a piece of flint rock struck the blade of a county road department lawnmower. Photo by Kevin Force.

by Kevin Force, Editor

Canyon Lake Fire/EMS crews quickly responded to a small brush fire in the Royal Forest subdivision last Wednesday and extinguished the blaze that burned for less than 20 minutes.

The fire started when the Comal County Road Department was cutting the overgrowth in the right-of-way along Royal Gate Road. The mower sucked up a piece of flint rock, which sparked when it struck the moving blade. The dry conditions caused the long grass to ignite immediately.

The road department crew quickly made an emergency call, and Canyon Lake Fire/EMS Chief Shawn Wherry said that a brush truck was on the scene within eight minutes. Within two to three minutes, the flames were extinguished.

The fire had already burned about an acre of land by that time and was threatening a nearby home.

"This is just an example of how extremely dry the conditions are," Wherry said. "It goes to show that you don't have to light a brush pile or throw a cigarette out the window or light fireworks to start a fire. One little spark from a flint rock can start a fire."

Wherry said that low winds were the biggest contributing factor in allowing crews to quickly contain the fire, but also noted the team's eight-minute response time and two natural fire breaks around the perimeter. He also pointed to the assistance of the road crew, who began cutting the excess grass around the area to slow the spreading of the burn.

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