Six Fire Departments Respond to Hwy. 77 Fires
Last Friday, June 17, at about 6:30 p.m., a truck pulling a trailer on Highway 77 going north with scrap iron on it, apparently started to drag some of the scrap along the roadside. The driver of the vehicle was unaware that sparks coming from his load were causing fires to start along Hwy. 77. The fires began near the Lee County/Milam County line and extended almost to Hwy. 79 north of Rockdale.
The call first came in to the Tanglewood Volunteer Fire Department, who called for assistance from Lexington VFD, and eventually, four other departments were called to help battle the fires. Rockdale, Cameron, Milano and Thorndale all sent firefighters and trucks to the extended scene.
Most of the dozen or so fires burned 100 to 150 feet off the roadway, some extending beyond the fence line. At one point, just before the Yegua Bridge, the fire jumped to both sides of the highway.
Lexington had four trucks on the scene, fighting the fire until after 9 p. m. Friday night, while Rockdale put out hot spots on Saturday and Sunday.
Lexington volunteers included Rodney Qualls, Chris Billings, Michael Milburn, Donnie Milburn, Jonathan Milburn, Kevin Bayer, and Darrell Shed, with Jarrett Ahrendt staying in town on stand-by.
Arrested by the Milam County Sheriff ’s Department in connection with these fires was the driver of the vehicle towing the trailer, Jake Peoples, 85 years old, from Hearne. He was charged with Criminal Mischief and released after posting a $500 bond.