Judge blames trash burn for runaway blaze
Multiple fire departments, including crews from La Pryor, Batesville, Crystal City, Dimmit County and Uvalde, were dispatched Tuesday to extinguish a fire at the Winter Garden Co-op Cotton Gin in Batesville along U.S. Highway 57.
Zavala County Judge Joe Luna said preliminary investigations have suggested the fire was caused by employees burning trash. Zavala County is under a burn ban, Luna said.
No injuries have been reported as a result of the fire, but more than 1,000 round bales of cotton waiting to be ginned were destroyed.
The fire started at approximately 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, and the Zavala County Sheriff’s Office closed U.S. Highway 83 briefly. U.S. Highway 57 was also closed, and traffic was re-routed to Farm-to-Market Road 117 into Uvalde.
At points, officials said, smoke on the road was so thick visibility was almost non-existent.
Though U.S. Highway 57 remained closed Tuesday night, at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday morning Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Juan Maldonado said it had been reopened.
Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department assistant chief Mario Rangel referenced 40-plus mph winds that cased heavy smoke as the fires stretched approximately one mile along both sides of Highway 57.
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