Brush, woods fires in Bienville Parish prompt evacuations

Smoke from Bienville Parish picked up on radar

BIENVILLE PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Blazes that spurred the evacuation of some south Bienville Parish families from their homes earlier today now are "pretty much contained," says Chief Deputy Randy Price, of the Bienville Parish sheriff's office. The biggest concern now is hot spots that may re-ignite, he said.

More than two dozen fire units with a total of more than 70 firefighters have been working to contain raging grass and woods fires. Fire officials say about six to seven homes were evacuated along Griffin Road in Castor, Louisiana.

The fires are in the Castor and Lucky areas and north of Highway 4, Price said.

Huge plumes of smoke from the fires were picked up on Doppler radar.

Fire crews have been focusing on protecting the 15 or so structures that could be threatened by the flames, including several homes where the fires were just a few hundred feet away.

"It was pretty scary because a lot of the area was burning," said Taketa Clark, an evacuee.

Taketa Clark lives off of Griffin Road in Castor. She was studying Sunday morning when she got a call from her aunt, at about noon, that a fire was threatening her home. She and her bed-ridden grandmother had to evacuate, along with seven other families that live in the area.

"Scrambling, trying to figure out what to do, what to gather, how to get granny out of the house. We're all close to my grandmother, and that was our major concern, getting her safe," said Clark.

The fire left dozens of acres burnt and smoldering. Clark explained what she saw as they evacuated, "at the corner of Highway 4 and Old Castor Road, there was fire in the trees, fire on the ground, we had, we couldn't go straight downtown, we had to go around another road and there was there was fire on that road on the side of the road."

"The winds that we've been having throughout the day have made this fire progress quite a bit," said Brian Lindberg, the assistant Fire Chief for Bienville Wards 4&5 Fire District.

Clark and her family sought refuge at their uncle's church, as they waited to hear about their home, to see if it survived the fire.

"We're surrounded by trees and we have there's a creek back there and you know the house, my grandmother's house has always been there, so I hope that everything is exactly that way," said Clark.

Clark and her family were there for more than five hours, waiting for the "all clear." It finally came just after 5:30, and they were able to go back home.

We're told some minor structures such as small sheds have been destroyed by the fires.

Fire crews from Ringgold, Castor and surrounding areas are helping. A state forestry plane is flying overhead to monitor the fires. And Homeland Security has been notified. But the Homeland Security water helicopter effort has been called off at this point, Price said.

Authorities still are looking into the possibility that the fires could have been sparked by a truck dragging something like a chain. That speculation is based on the linear path of the blazes, but Price emphasized that the cause has not yet been confirmed.

No injuries have been reported.

Bienville Parish is still under a burn ban.

This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.

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