Firefighters go beyond the flames to save homes in the path of the Mallard Fire

Firefighters go beyond the flames to save homes in the path of the Mallard Fire

GOODNIGHT, TX (KFDA) - The Mallard Fire now spans more than 74,000 acres across Armstrong County with just 20-percent containment.

Forest service officials say the two areas that are keeping crews busy are in the northwest outside of the canyons and the southeast near JA Ranchlands.

In the seven days since the fire first sparked, its path quickly went north toward homes and the small town of Goodnight.

"It got within a few miles of the town of Goodnight," said Kari Hines with Texas A&M Forest Service.

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With the fast actions of firefighters, officials now say there are no current threats to local towns.

"There are no towns currently directly threatened but we do want residents in the area to be aware because this is an active fire perimeter," said Hines.

For two homes on FM 2889, the Mallard Fire came too close for comfort.

"As the fire came out of the canyon and started burning in this grassy terrain, and the reason it was burning very quickly was because there is a house," said Hines.

With the quick actions by crews, a perimeter was set up to protect one home in its path.

"The bulldozer came up this way and was able to cut a path in-between the tall grass and the private property," said Hines. "Because of that, the fire did not enter into the backyard of this home and the home was saved."

For another home, keeping the grass around it short helped minimize fuel for the fire.

"As it got closer to their backyard, they were maintaining their lawn in such a way that firefighters were able to go onto the property and stop the fire from reaching their house," said Hines. "It got probably 50 feet away from their home."

Even the home's driveway had a role in preventing the fire from getting closer.

"This driveway actually acted as a little break in the fireline," said Hines. "Firefighters were able to use that to stop movement of the fire."

Officials say that while these homes were saved, other homeowners in the area can be proactive by preparing their own properties.

"The one thing that folks can do that live around here can prepare their homes for fire," said Brad Lidell, Red Team Safety Officer. "Just getting those fuels away from their house so when a firefighter comes to assess their houses, they can assess it high enough that they can stay there and fight the fire while the fire is coming around and their home can be saved."

Some of those easy homeowner preps can include cleaning out gutters and corners of dry materials like leaves and grass.

"It's thinking of the little things. Any place that a leaf can gather, that grass gathers when it's blown by the wind, are the same place that embers can gather," said Hines. "Embers fly ahead of the main head of the fire and they find these little crooks and crannies then start a larger fire."

This serves as a reminder to homeowners that little steps can go a long way in protecting their home and assisting the firefighters who are protecting them.

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