UPDATED: Monday, March 4, 2013 - 8:06pm
Killeen, TX — Dominic Rhodes leases the building that currently houses the Old Skool Diner in Killeen.
Early Monday morning, he was rummaging through the fire damage that claimed the property’s back patio and deck, which is omething he just added on not too long
“The first fire was at about 8:30P.M," said Rhodes. "The fence on the side over there, that was the original fire. The fire departmnt put that out pretty quick.”
The fire began with his fence late last night.
The flames were extinguished, but not before another fire
started up hours later.
This time the blaze fully engulfed his newly-renovated deck.
“Whoever did it, they waited until after the put out the first fire. They waited until later to come back and finish the job," said Rhodes.
Fire investigators are figuring out how the second fire started.
Rhodes believes it was set on purpose by local vandals, but it’s hard to determine when the wind and dry conditions are as bad as they've been lately.
“When you get these real high winds, the fires actually create embers. The wind will pick them up and
carry them elsewhere to start more fires," said Kenneth Hawthorne, Deputy Chief of the Killeen Fire Department.
In fact, just a few blocks away hours earlier, a house fire displaced a family who lost a poodle and two parakeets to the blaze.
Even when the wind eventually settles down, the drought will still affect fire conditions.
“That’s the situation we’re in now. We are dry. The ground is dry. Even though we had rain, it’s still not
enough to catch up with how long we’ve been in a drought," said Hawthorne.
Fire officials urge using common sense to avoid starting a wildfire.
Rural landowners should stay on top of their brush.
Grill in an open area away from your home and never flick a burning cigarette out of your car window.