By MICHELLE CASADY
A fire that officials believe was started by an incinerator used to dispose of chicken carcasses burned 30 acres in Robertson County before being contained by local firefighters.
Robertson County Emergency Management Coordinator Bill Huggins said eight volunteer fire departments responded to the fire on F.M. 1644, about five miles west of Franklin.
The Texas Forest Service provided air support with a plane to help ground crews see where the fire was moving. It started at about 12:30 p.m. and was contained within 7 1/2 hours.
Three or four firefighters were treated on scene for heat exhaustion, and one was transported to St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan and later released.
"It crossed 200 yards in a couple of minutes," Huggins said. "It was moving that fast, it was that hot and that dry and there's a lot of vegetation in that field."
One mobile home is unlivable after being damaged in the blaze.
"It jumped from the mobile home to the tree line," he said. "And once it hit those trees, they just exploded from being so hot and dry."
Nearby property had chicken houses, so officials were concerned hot embers would make their way to the birds, which eventually end up at Sanderson Farms in Brazos County, however, the chickens were not harmed by the fire.
The fire skipped across several driveways and roads, and parts of the blaze were in heavily wooded areas, compounding the difficulty of containing it, he said.
The continued dry conditions across the state prompted Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday to issue a disaster proclamation for 167 of the 254 counties. All eight counties in the Brazos Valley were included on that list, and each has a burn ban in effect, along with 144 other counties.
The disaster designation gives approval for state agencies to access federal assistance, as well as state resources, to fight wildfires, officials said.
The governor's office said that more than 10,000 acres have been burned across the state since June 25.