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April 19, 2011
Wildfire Battles Continue at Possum Kingdom State Park
Nearby Possum Kingdom Fish Hatchery Operations Affected
AUSTIN – Wildfires around Possum Kingdom Lake today covered more than 150,000 acres, continuing to threaten Possum Kingdom State Park and Palo Pinto County communities, forcing the evacuation of several communities and closure of Possum Kingdom Fish Hatchery located just below the reservoir dam.
Late Monday as wildfires crept closer, eight hatchery employees were not allowed into the restricted area. Two other staff members who live and work at the hatchery were required to leave the hatchery that is located 13 miles west of Graford. A skeleton crew was allowed to return this morning to the 103-acre facility where fingerlings are produced for stocking Texas waters.
Possum Kingdom State Park was evacuated last Friday ahead of wildfires that burned 90 percent of the 1,500-acre park on the south shore of Possum Kingdom Lake and slightly damaged two buildings and two of three sewage treatment system liners. No one was injured.
Several hot shot crews consisting of U.S. Forest Service firefighters, assisted by 14 trained Texas State Park firefighters, continued today to monitor the park for re-burns that have been occurring in thick stands of juniper and help fight fires near the fish hatchery and nearby communities. In addition, six state park law enforcement officers and four park rangers are on the scene to assist.
Jeff Sparks, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s state parks wildland fire program manager, says numerous air resources continue to pound the fire. He says TPWD employees not fighting the flare-ups continue to clear juniper away from the state park structures to reduce the burn risk.
The PK West Fire that hit Possum Kingdom State Park has merged into various other fires in Palo Pinto and Stephens counties and has been renamed the PK Complex Fire by the Texas Forest Service. The PK Complex Fire, which now covers almost 150,000 acres, continues to threaten more than 600 homes and has destroyed at least 31 residences.
Two other state parks that have been threatened by the raging wildfires in north and west Texas in past days – San Angelo State Park and Lake Arrowhead State Park – remain open. Davis Mountains State Park, which suffered wildfire damage last week to 675 acres last week in the Rockhouse Fire, remains closed, as does historic Indian Lodge that is located inside the park. A base camp for hundreds of firefighters has been set up inside the state park.
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