Units at the U.S. Army’s Fort Hood Military base are battling three massive artillery range fires. As plumes of smoke towered up into the Texas sky, late Tuesday, officials assured the public that the situation is reasonably well under control. It seems to be the only thing that these camp commanders have under control lately. Just this year, nine soldiers from the fort have died, with five “linked to foul play.”
Base officials confirm three separate fires
On base at Fort Hood, Army spokesman Tyler Broadway issued an official statement Tuesday, confirming that “firefighters were battling three blazes on post as of 7 p.m.” The training range locations were identified as Brown’s Creek, Clabber Creek, and Jack Mountain. Out of the three spots, the largest inferno was Jack Mountain which spread over 50 acres.
By the time of the press conference, their crews managed to extinguish “about 12 acres on Brown’s Creek and about 2 acres on Clabber Creek.” Putting out the fires is an even bigger challenge because “the weather has also been a factor.” The base has been experiencing “high temperatures, low humidity and shifting winds.”
Base officials admit that “all three fires were caused by live-fire training.” They started them and they’ll put them back out, Broadway promises. “No mutual aid had been requested as of early evening,” because “the fires were not threatening any structures or Fort Hood’s boundaries.” They called in a super-soaker airstrike, flying in “Bambi buckets” to drop water on the blaze, courtesy of the 1st Cavalry Division. Until they get there, “five firefighting vehicles, one water tender and two command units were on scene as of 7:30 p.m.”
Independent review panel to assess ‘command climate’
With those weather conditions, many are wondering who gave the order to send soldiers out to fire explosives in the first place. The weather conditions aren’t the only climate issues on the base. Things have gotten so far out of control at Fort Hood that the “command climate” is being investigated. Five civilian experts “will conduct an independent review.”
Vanessa Guillen’s death is the highest profile incident the base is involved with but before she disappeared on April 22, 2020, there was an earlier disappearance. Pfc. Gregory Wedel-Morales vanished just days before his expected discharge. The Army listed him as a deserter, but his body was recently found. Investigators discovered his remains June 19, 2020, “following a tip.” He was buried in a field in Killeen, about 10 miles from Stillhouse Hollow lake and five miles from Fort Hood. On July 17, Pvt. Mejhor Morta, from Pensacola Florida, was found “unresponsive” near the same lake. Earlier this month, the body of Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas was retrieved following a “boating accident.” Also this month, National Guard Sgt. Bradley Moore died while participating in a training exercise.
On May 18, 2020, the body of Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans was found three miles from Fort Hood. He was shot full of holes and his Jeep was in flames. A month later, on June 30, the “first parts” of Vanessa Guillen’s remains turned up. She was murdered on the base by Spc. Aaron David Robinson who killed himself when police zeroed in. His girlfriend helped dismember the body and bury it in three places.