WAGGONER RANCH (KFDX/KJTL) — The Coconut Fire raging out of control on the Waggoner Ranch is still by far the largest active fire in the state. Firefighters are struggling with both flames and the elements to contain it.

Officials now know what started this massive fire: lightning.

“As it stands right now, we’re at 25,000 acres with 35% containment,” Angel Lopez Portillo with the Texas A&M Forest Services said.
Editor’s note: Since this statement, the fire has grown.

The fire started Tuesday at the huge Waggoner Ranch. Fire departments from surrounding counties and the state have all played a role in attempting to stop it from spreading.

“We have bulldozers, motor graders, and we also have TIFMAS strike teams, which is Texas Inner-agency Fire Mutual Aid System,” Portillo said.

As you can imagine, with these scorching temperatures, firefighters say the weather has been their number one challenge.

“As you can see right now, the wind is playing a big factor,” Portillo said. “It’s causing us a little bit of issue in the southwest corner. We do have high temperatures as well, with low humidity, and that is not conducive to what we’re trying to do.”

You can feel the heat literally coming through your feet with the weather, wind and outside elements. Firefighters use these hand tools to move everything on the ground that could catch on fire to create a barrier, so the fire can be stopped.

So far, only two people have been injured fighting the fire. Both of them are firefighters, and both were treated and released.

There are several resources being used to help contain the fire, as well as make sure the firefighters stay safe.

“The hot temps and added temps from the fire has taken a toll on the firefighters as we get close to it,” Portillo said. “We have air resources assisting in cooling off those fire lines, so ground resources can approach a little bit better.”

John Hostas with the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department gave us this statement on that department’s role in the firefight:

“Right now, we are in good shape with the fire on our end. We are no longer out there unless called to assist or if a flare up occurs. The community has been overly gracious with food and water. We really appreciate that. Our current need is repairs to the trucks and tire replacements. Any monetary donations to help with that is greatly appreciated.”

If you’d like to support the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department, you can send mail to P.O. Box 587 in Seymour, Texas 76380.

As far as residents who live around the sprawling ranch, Portillo said they’re safe for now.

“However, I do want to say that we can’t predict what’s going on with this weather,” Portillo said. “I’ll let people know to start gathering important documents and just be prepared.”

Officials are advising people in the path of the fire to be prepared if evacuation becomes necessary and urge people to not to drive toward the fire to view it because it is so unpredictable.