|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - March 2009
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Officials investigating source of barn blaze
Polk County Enterprise - March 2009
LIVINGSTON – A fi re allegedly started the day before the countywide burn ban ended destroyed a storage barn and gave fi refi ghters a challenge. A source close to the investigation said that a neighbor of the man whose barn was destroyed began burning a pile of debris Wednesday in his front yard while the burn ban was still in effect. Thursday morning county commissioners met for a special session and lifted the burn ban from Feb. 10. According to witnesses the fi re smoldered Wednesday and into Thursday before reigniting and spreading out of control. However, as of press time Saturday the source of the fi re and who may be responsible for it are still under investigation with no comment from the Polk County Sheriff’s Offi ce. At 2:25 p.m. Livingston Volunteer Fire Department received a call that a building was on fi re on Old Hwy 35 off U.S. 59 North behind Livingston I.S.D.’s bus barn. Firefi ghters arrived to fi nd a large barn used for personal storage fully involved. While they fought the blaze Polk County Sheriff’s Deputies tried to determine whose property was on fi re, said Fire Chief Corky Cochran. Cochran expressed his frustration over the situation by reiterating the hazardous conditions that exist in the area. “Just because we had rains last week it doesn’t mean it’s safe to burn,” said Cochran. With the drop in humidity and the high winds the pine straw-covered yard went up like a tinderbox and spread quickly to the old wooden barn, said Cochran. From there the fi re continued out of control to a debris pile nearby. The department used more than 5,000 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze while Texas Forest Service (TFS) rangers used a bulldozer to clear debris from the edge of the woods nearby and create a firebreak, according to TFS Resource Specialist Rusty Smith. With the building unsalvageable, it was also bulldozed to spread the embers so that fire crews could soak the rubble and prevent a flare up. Cochran said the department had several concerns while fighting the fire, including homes nearby and the Livingston I.S.D. bus barn where vehicles, fuel and other flammables are kept. “With the way the winds were whipping around the fire kept getting away from us and the ground was so wet our [trucks] kept getting stuck in the mud,” said Cochran. Even with the ground so saturated the blaze was difficult to control. It took LVFD and TFS crews an hour and a half to smother the blaze, using three city trucks and 16 men and four Forest Service trucks and four men. Cochran emphasizes that Livingston city residents are prohibited from burning year round and the burn bans set and lifted by commissioners court only apply to unincorporated areas of the county. Five minutes after firefighters had left the scene of that fire, a call came in for a fire on Soda Loop east of town. Three trucks and nine men responded to a blaze that appears to have begun in a ditch – possibly by a discarded cigarette – and spread to the yard of a home whose owner was not there. Crews quickly extinguished the grass fire and were back at the station by 4:30 p.m.