Fighting Monday’s huge grass fire on State Highway 46 West was a local and state mega-jurisdictional effort.
David Ferguson, city communications coordinator, said New Braunfels firefighters were among a dozen agencies called out to the blaze, which was already in progress when they arrived in the 4400 block of SH 46 West, in back of the Mission Valley Ranch subdivision, around 3:30 p.m.
“That is in the city limits but the fire itself was not,” Ferguson said. “We were called to assist Canyon Lake Fire & EMS in keeping what was called a fast-moving grass fire, fanned by high winds and consuming a huge fuel load, from reaching that residential area.”
Canyon Lake Fire & EMS responders managed the effort after arriving at 2:40 p.m.
“We quickly requested assistance from neighboring departments,” Canyon Lake Battalion Chief Jeff Kahanek said, adding assistance came from Bracken, Bulverde-Spring Branch, Schertz, and Cibolo. Also assisting was the Comal County Fire Marshal’s Office, Texas Forest Service and the Texas Department of Emergency Management.
“A task force of four fire engines was on standby in the Mission Hills Ranch subdivision, ready to protect homes in case the fire got close,” Ferguson said. “The Texas Forest Service sent in bulldozers from Fredericksburg, as well as an Airboss that provided aerial situation reports.
“The forest service had two air tankers that each made a drop of fire retardant between the subdivision and where the fire was,” Ferguson added. “A privately owned bulldozer was helping build fire breaks until the bulldozers could get there. In the meantime, all of the other agencies used their water trucks.
“Work was slow, due to the winds and dry material available on the property,” he added. “Around 6:15 p.m. the fire was considered contained – the air drops made a significant impact and by that time the bulldozers arrived to strengthen and widen the fire breaks. Units remained into the night to monitor and douse hot spots.”
Ferguson said smoke remained in the area through the evening, adding no structures were damaged and no injuries reported. Ferguson said the city’s Community Emergency Response Team (NBCERT) provided food and water for crews fighting the blaze.
Also, Ferguson credited the San Marcos fire department for providing mutual aid in the city while units were working two accident scenes and grass fire.
Canyon Lake Chief Robert Mikel said the blaze consumed about eight acres.
“Thick brush posed its challenges for our personnel to be able to get in and extinguish it,” he said. “At this time the fire is 100% contained. We will be monitoring it periodically throughout the day (Tuesday). We still have high fire conditions today and throughout this week, with low humidity and high winds.”
Added Kahanek: “It was a real team effort and our mutual aid system worked as it was designed,” he said. “Personnel from numerous agencies and state assets put in the hard work as a team to control this fire and kept it from spreading to a neighboring subdivision. We want to thank all those who assisted.”
Also Monday, New Braunfels firefighters had to battle another small grass fire in the 3000 block of Interstate 35, where another blaze last week scorched a portion of the grassy median between the main interstate lanes and southbound access in front of the Comal County Jail.
Firefighters arrived around 7 p.m. and spent a half-hour extinguishing a 20×200-foot patch that was ablaze. They exited that scene at 7:28 p.m., Ferguson said; no injuries were reported.