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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Sunlight Magnified by Glass Bottles Starts Local Fire

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View of a fire started at Possum Kingdom Lake. | Image by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department via KSAT

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A fire at Possum Kingdom Lake was allegedly ignited by sunlight shining onto bottles in a trash can, fire officials said last week.

The fire started on the western shore of the lake, about 70 miles west of Fort Worth on July 28; it burned 500 acres of land and destroyed five homes. Volunteer firefighters fought the blaze for eight days to get it fully contained.


Possum Kingdom West Side Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bonnie Watkins found a trashcan she believed was the fire’s source. The trash can was full of glass bottles and paper.

She explained the glass bottles magnified the sun’s heat, lighting the paper on fire, and the wind provided oxygen, allowing the fire to grow. After the fire burned the trash can, it began to burn nearby foliage and trees.

Rich Johnson, spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, said this cause is particularly odd.

“A fire started in a trash can is one thing, but one caused by sunlight magnified by glass bottles? That’s a new one,” he stated.

Texas is especially vulnerable to fires as the drought conditions, extreme heat, and wind gusts continue. 224 of 254 Texas counties currently have burn bans in effect.

The Chalk Mountain fire that started on July 18 has been burning for two weeks. As of Tuesday, it was 93% contained.

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