Palo Pinto grass fire
PALO PINTO COUNTY — Evacuations from the area threatened by the latest Possum Kingdom Lake fire began at mid-afternoon.
The flames were moving too quickly for most of the residents of The Cliffs subdivision to leave by car; their homes were surrounded by fire.
So they set out to safety by boat, uncertain of what would be left when they returned.
"We got word that there was a fire about five miles southwest of The Cliffs and the wind was blowing hard, headed our way," said a security guard who was going door-to-door telling residents to leave, when he realized they had run out of time.
"There was fire in front of a resident's front yard a couple hundred yards from me," the guard said. "That's when I was told to get out of here."
"And we just took what we could from our home," said Mary Ann Howell.
Sylvia Overton said there was no time to spare. "You just don't have time, and you think you do... and you don't."
Overton and her husband Jerry, a former Dallas Cowboys football player, tossed what they could into their cars, rounded up their two terrified dogs, and headed for the boat dock.
"You think you can see? You can't see through that stuff, and it's very scary," Overton said. "I'm following my husband in one car and me in the other and it's like we're leaving our lives behind us."
The road was blocked; the boat was their only chance to escape.
"You can see our house from the water. We saw a lot of black smoke, a lot of brown smoke, and you think that it's the trees going up, well it's trees, but it's some of the houses, too," Overton said. "You can tell it's a house because of the depth of the smoke."
In all, about 30 people were evacuated by boat; some came from The Harbor, a nearby development. Management there opened up the inn to offer free shelter to evacuees.
The Harbor's restaurant typically doesn't open until Thursday, but on Tuesday the manager called the chef in from Fort Worth to prepare a special free dinner for the evacuees.