Mesquite Heat Fire Saturday update: Containment holds at 25%, US Hwy 277 opened

·4 min read

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Mesquite Heat Fire containment holds at 25% Saturday

UPDATE 10:05 P.M. SATURDAY

The Mesquite Heat Fire remained at 9,613 acres and 25% containment Saturday evening, according to a 6 p.m. update on the Texas A&M Forest Service website.

The View Volunteer Fire Department said in a Saturday Facebook post that crews were out Saturday, their fifth day, working and monitoring conditions.

"Conditions continue to change as weather is unpredictable," the post stated.

The VFD also thanked the community for its support, especially given that "the fire has been really hard on everyone's equipment and personnel."

Online donations to help the department with repairs can be made at https://paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=X86QNXHJXHAYS. Contributions also can be mailed to the View VFD at 108 Grand Ave., Abilene, 79606.

Evacuation order modified Saturday evening

UPDATE 9:45 P.M. SATURDAY

The Mesquite Heat Fire evacuation order for some roads southwest of View was modified effective 8 p.m. Saturday to allow residents into the area, the Taylor County Sheriff's Office reported on social media.

Deputies will be stationed at Hidden Valley Drive, Braune Road from CR 297 to Hidden Valley Drive and Braune Road from Hidden Valley Drive to Hillside Road to check identification for proof of residency.

Nonresidents will not be permitted to enter those areas, the TCSO said.

Utility, road repairs on way along U.S. Highway 277 Saturday

UPDATE 3 P.M. SATURDAY

The orange and yellow vests of utility and road workers stood out early Saturday afternoon against the black-and-white ruins of trees and scarred landscaped bisected by U.S. Highway 277.

"Caution. Falling Ash." flashed on a Texas Department of Transportation road sign, warning highway drivers between View and Coronado's Camp of the fresh damage after a wildfire charred the area.

The highway was opened about 9:30 p.m. Friday, according to the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, two days after it was closed because of the Mesquite Heat Fire.

Mesquite Heat Fire holding at 9,613 acres, 25% contained early Saturday afternoon

Fire crews continue to work in the area as the Mesquite Heat Fire remained at 9,613 acres and 25% contained at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, according to a social media update from the Texas A&M Forest Service. That has been the status since Thursday.

Traffic is slow through the area with work trucks along U.S. 277 and county roads. The utility crews are replacing power poles and lines, while road crews repair guard rails damaged and destroyed by the wildfire that jumped the highway.

One stretch of U.S. 277 is one lane, with drivers stopped as pilot vehicles take turns leading north- and southbound drivers through the pass.

Handmade signs hang on a gate along U.S. Highway 277 between Coronado's Camp and View Saturday, May 21, 2022, thanking firefighters for their efforts fighting the Mesquite Heat Fire that raged through the area.
Handmade signs hang on a gate along U.S. Highway 277 between Coronado's Camp and View Saturday, May 21, 2022, thanking firefighters for their efforts fighting the Mesquite Heat Fire that raged through the area.

Mesquite Heat Fire remains at 25% containment by Friday's end

UPDATE 6 A.M. SATURDAY

The Mesquite Heat Fire officially remained at 9,613 acres and 25% contained Friday night, the same since Thursday, according to an update from the Texas A&M Forest Service at about 9:45 p.m. Friday.

Following is a recap of Friday's efforts and progress on the wildfire on both sides of U.S. Highway 277 near View and a few miles west of Buffalo Gap, posted on the Incident Information System website https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/.

U.S. Highway 277 opened Friday night

The Taylor County Sheriff's Office said U.S. Highway 277 reopened Friday night.

Deputies will be patrolling this area to keep traffic flowing, and caution is advised because several guardrail posts have burned, TCSO said in a Facebook post about 9:30 p.m. Friday.

"Several guardrails are only laying on the ground and reflective stripping may not be visible or still present due to fire damage," the post stated.

Crews from the Texas Department of Transportation will be working to make repairs on the roadway between View and Coronado's Camp for the next three to four weeks, TxDOT said.

After being closed for two days because of the Mesquite Heat Fire, U.S. Highway 277 reopened Friday night, May 20, 2022.
After being closed for two days because of the Mesquite Heat Fire, U.S. Highway 277 reopened Friday night, May 20, 2022.

Southern Area Coordinating Group assisting with Mesquite Heat Fire

The Southern Area Coordinating Group (SACG) Gold Team has arrived and will assume command of the fire, according to a social media post from the Texas A&M Forest Service Friday night.

SACG, which covers 13 states, specializes in coordinating and overseeing the mobilization of emergency resources during wildfires, natural disasters and other major incidents.

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Gov. Abbott includes Mesquite Heat Fire in disaster declaration

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott added Taylor County to a wildfires disaster declaration that includes several counties across the state.

The amended declaration was signed late Thursday and authorizes the use of all available state resources in combatting the wildfire Mesquite Heat Fire.

The wildfire in Taylor County is one of six across the state, as of Saturday morning.

More: Mesquite Heat Fire Friday update: Weather challenging as crews plan to improve containment

Laura Gutschke is a general assignment reporter and food columnist and manages online content for the Reporter-News.  If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Mesquite Heat Fire Saturday update: Containment holds at 25%