Railroad tie fire

New Braunfels firefighters, currently working a brush fire south of the city that has charred dozens of acres, have contained the blaze but are letting the fire burn itself out over the next few hours.

A controlled burn that got out of control.

That’s from the Comal County Fire Marshal’s Office on the cause of Monday’s brush fire that charred dozens of acres on a private property southwest of downtown New Braunfels.

The blaze broke out on a lot in the 500 block of Strateman Lane and Rusch Lane, both off Farm-to-Market Road 482, around 1:40 p.m. Monday. New Braunfels police and fire units responded as the blaze spread quickly to engulf dozens of upright railroad ties and a shed in the middle of an open field. 

David Ferguson, city communications coordinator, noted black smoke from the fire was visible enough to slow traffic on Interstate 35. Firefighters and the property owner, who used a bulldozer to trench around the fire, prevented the blaze from spreading further.

“What we had was a bunch of old ties and what looked to be old telephone poles that caught fire and we didn’t have the water that far out into the county to effectively put it out,” NBFD Battalion Chief Rick Edwards said. “We just decided to let it burn itself out, which is what it did.”

NBFD canceled mutual aid requests to Bracken Volunteer Fire Department, Canyon Lake Fire and EMS and Schertz Fire Department. Edwards said the fire was out by 6 p.m., and five of the 11 firefighters stayed on to help the landowner monitor smoldering beams throughout the night.

County Fire Marshal Kory Kaunda said Tuesday there was nothing really to investigate, as it was a controlled burn that got a little out of control.

“There was no actual cause, except that one fire led into another fire,” Klabunde said. “It only involved an acre or an acre and a half.”

Comal County canceled its most recent burn ban in early October. The county’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which assigns points for each inch of estimated dry soil depth, averaged 198 points Monday – well below the 500-point threshold the county requires for calling burn bans in unincorporated county areas.

“We had some calls on this, but in this case there was nothing to investigate,” Klabunde said. “It was simply an accidental fire – the owner was staging a burn that spread to the railroad ties. It didn’t damage anybody else’s property as far as we know.”

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