A fast-spreading grass fire on Arcadia Road destroyed more than 20 bails of hay on Thursday and barely missed a home. Residents say wind fueled the flames.
“By the time I saw the fire, it had moved from the roadway past my daughter’s trailer,” said Brenda Bell. “It was moving pretty fast.”
Bell says the fire appears to have started on a hill beside her driveway and by the large burn path, traveled behind her house where the trailer is located.
“It went right beside the trailer and up the hill,” said Bell. “I don’t know why the trailer didn’t catch on fire. Thank God it didn’t. I moved past the trailer and up the hill toward my neighbors’ bales of hay. The way the wind is blowing is the direction the fire went.”
The neighbor, Billy Cothren, attempted to keep the fire from his hay until Collins River Fire Department arrived.
“I tried, but the fire was within a few feet of the hay before I got to it,” said Cothren. “There was nothing I could do. I have about 30 bales of hay. There are a few that I think the fire won’t get to because there is a space between them.”
Both Bell and Cothren were alerted to the fire by their grandsons, who were both at home from school due to the threat of school violence.
“I was staying with my grandmother,” said Chad Woods, 11, the grandson of Bell. “I went home to change clothes. When I walked outside, I saw the fire. I ran back inside and told my grandmother to call the fire department.”
Chad went back outside and attempted to stomp out the small spots of fire still burning beside his family’s trailer.
“These shoes saved the day,” said Chad, looking at his boots.
His grandmother feels differently.
“He’s a hero to me,” said Bell. “He made the call for help and went out to save his home.”
Cothren received the call for action from his grandson, Ryan Cothren, 10.
“I was playing Xbox,” said Ryan. “I looked out the window and started yelling that the field was on fire.”
The department expects the fire to smolder for three to four days due to the thickness of the hay bales.