Dozens Evacuated Near Fritch Highway

Wildfire Burns more than 23,000 acres

AMARILLO - Investigators say as many as five fires were burning north and northeast of Amarillo Monday afternoon.

The smoke could be seen for miles. Even partially blacking out the sun.

The westerly winds blew the fires eastward and eventually jumped the Fritch highway (136).

That forced the closure of the highway.

The fires scorched more than 12,000 acres.

Firefighters used dozer lines and single engine air tankers to drop retardant on the fire.

That fire threatened about 150 homes northeast of Amarillo.

By mid afternoon, the fast moving fire made its way to the Fritch highway on course to hit Pantex and the town of Panhandle.

That forced the evacuations of homes in the path near the Fritch highway and Bertrand road.

"We was ready to go anyway." Said Wayne Smith. "We had everything we just hoping it didn't get across Stinnett road. So we just packed up and left."

Brent Moore added, "We'll hang out until we find out if we're going home tonight."

The Lighthouse Baptist Church near loop 335 and Pavillard is serving as a staging area for evacuees of the fire northeast of the city.

For Wayne Smith and Brent Moore, the evacuation was more of a precaution.

Moore said, "You couldn't see flames or anything like that but it was getting awful smoky and then the winds supposed to be changing direction. That'll change better for the worse."

"I bet it didn't take 35 minutes to come for 45 minutes to come from the Dumas highway to the Fritch highway. It didn't take long." Smith said. Before going to the church, Smith helped out a neighbor who wasn't home at the time of the fires.

"I was helping my neighbor north of me with a bunch of cattle, cows and calves and we cut the fence and ran them out of the fire out of that pasture into the section I live in." Smith said.

As of 10:30 Monday night, the fire was only 50% contained.


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