More manpower sought to battle blaze as Palo Pinto evacuated

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WFAA

Posted on April 19, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 20 at 1:03 AM

PALO PINTO, Texas - Officials are evacuating the town of Palo Pinto, including the Palo Pinto County Jail, as a precaution as the Possum Kingdom Complex fires drew too near for comfort.

About 150 homes have been destroyed, and the 400 residents of Palo Pinto were ordered to leave their homes and head east to Mineral Wells late Tuesday afternoon as a wildfire began to circle around to the north and northeast of town with a prevailing northeasterly breeze.

"I would get text after text, 'We lost our house; we lost our house,'" said Hopi Hodge, who lives in Palo Pinto County.

Trooper Gary Rozzell of the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed that the evacuation had been ordered but had no on developments with the fires that prompted the decision.

County Judge David Nicklas said wind gusts and the fire threat eased after sunset, but the uncertain situation prompted him to leave the evacuation order in place until Wednesday morning.

Most of the 149 homes and one church destroyed by the Possum Kingdom Complex of fires were in the immediate vicinity of the lake.

Exhausted firefighters need help fighting the wildfire. They've put out the call to fire departments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to send what they can, but at least one major department's chief says he may not be able to answer that call.

Many firefighters have worked so many hours the Red Cross says it has run out of clean clothes and socks. The crews fight on, covered in dirt, ash and soot.

Tuesday, the Fort Worth Fire Department announced it will join the 1,700 first responders from 34 states by sending backup with four brush trucks along with 10 Fort Worth firefighters.

"We'll have 14 brush trucks still deployed throughout the city," said Tim Hardeman, Fort Worth Fire Department. "We'll be able to maintain our normal responses. We also have mutual aid agreements with other municipalities."

Dallas Fire Rescue announced it will also send strike teams of firefighters, along with pickup trucks to carry equipment and water. Arlington is still considering  the request as the chief said there is concern about having enough manpower to handle potential grassfires there.

Crews from Euless, Keller, Colleyville and Grapevine helped at Hodge Ranch.

"They saved my house," Hodge said. "So, anything I can do."

Hodge said she can't say thank you enough, but her family tried with cases of water and food donations at the Graford Red Cross Shelter.

Palo Pinto is a town west of Fort Worth and is the county seat of Palo Pinto County.

WFAA's Cynthia Vega and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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