Fire risk increases in Wise County


Excessive heat, dry vegetation, low humidity and the addition of winds picking up today are expected to create dangerous fire conditions in Wise County.
The National Weather Service issued a fire danger statement Thursday morning for Wise and several surrounding counties with high temperatures expected to range between 105 and 110, relative humidity between 10 and 20 percent and winds between 10 and 15 mph.
Paradise and Cottondale firefighters are battling a barn, vehicle and grass fire on Sunflower Road.
In the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), which measures the wildfire potential by taking into account the soil moisture, the county is at an average of 690, the highest in the state, on a scale ranging from 0 to 800. The top end of the scale represents completely dry conditions. Much of the county is above 700 with the high of 727.
Cody Powell, Wise County Emergency Management Coordinator, said the heat is the biggest worry today. An excessive heat warning is effect for today and Friday with temperatures exceeding 105. It’s the first time since August 2011 that the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for North Central Texas.
“Along with the dryness, wind and relative humidity, the X factor is the heat,” Powell said. “In 110 degree heat, it doesn’t take long to tax guys. A lot of the guys were out fighting fires yesterday. If something big happens, it’ll deplete resources quickly.”
Several departments battled a large grass fire between Alvord and Decatur Wednesday afternoon.
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office is dispatching three departments on the initial response to any fires and putting the next nearest station on standby. Powell said Wise County EMS is stocked and ready to perform rehab at any fires.
Powell suggested residents consider dropping off cases of water and sports drinks at fire stations to help.
“The biggest thing citizens can do is stop by and drop off a case of water or [sports drinks],” he said. “They are almost all volunteers and they are the ones keeping the county from burning.”
A 90-day burn ban is effect and the Sheriff’s Office is issuing citations for violations.

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Blaze threatens buildings


Close Call

CLOSE CALL – Firefighters battled a blaze Saturday that threatened structures in Rhome. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A fire Saturday afternoon at 1176 Pioneer Road in Rhome threatened several structures but was eventually contained, according to Rhome Fire Chief Darrell Fitch.

All of the structures were saved, and Fitch said the cause is still being determined. Firefighters from Rhome, Newark and East Wise responded.

Wise County is under a 90-day burn. Most of the county is in severe drought, according to the latest USDA drought monitor.

In the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), which measures the wildfire potential by taking into account the soil moisture, the county is at an average of 673 on a scale ranging from 0 to 800. The top end of the scale represents completely dry conditions.

Soils are expected to dry out more over the next several days with high temperatures in the mid 100s and no rain in the forecast.

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Early morning blaze destroys shop

Early morning blaze destroys shop


Stopping the Flames

STOPPING THE FLAMES – Firefighters spray water inside a shop at Bob King’s Truck Beds outside Boyd early Tuesday morning. A fire destroyed two buildings on the property. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Offices and a large shop at Bob King’s Truck Beds on Texas 114 outside Boyd were destroyed by a fire before dawn Tuesday.

Wise County Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty said he doesn’t know the cause, but it appears to be accidental.

“Earlier Monday, during business hours, one of their employees was grinding and caught the insulation on fire,” he said. “They thought they had it out, but it was right there in the same area where the fire originated [Tuesday].”

The first 911 calls were received around 3 a.m. with reports of flames shooting through the roof and explosions.

Doughty said what people heard weren’t actual explosions but things like oxygen bottles and welding gas bottles venting. The flames were shooting through skylights in the roof. The fire was reported under control just before 4:30 a.m.

“All their tools and everything was lost due to heat damage and electrical wires melting on things,” he said.

Fire departments called to the scene included Boyd, Paradise, Cottondale, Newark, Rhome and Decatur. Wise County EMS also responded, but no one was injured.

A third building on the property, which housed the paint booth, was not damaged. Doughty said first thing Tuesday morning King’s employees moved welders on trailers into that space and also began working outside.

“As we were leaving, other crews were coming in with tractors to clear the debris of the burned buildings,” Doughty said.

King’s is at 1167 E. Highway 114. It’s owned by Bob King.

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Blaze devours trailer


Lost in Fire

LOST IN FIRE – A blaze tore through a mobile home on Farm Road 2123 Wednesday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Fire destroyed a mobile home in the 1400 block of Farm Road 2123 south of Bridgeport early Wednesday morning.

No one was at the home when firefighters arrived to find it fully involved.

Bridgeport Fire Chief Terry Long and Wise County Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty were unsure if anyone lived in the trailer. Bridgeport, Paradise and Cottondale firefighters responded to the blaze.

Doughty said he will be investigating the cause.

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Blaze destroys home, vehicles

Blaze destroys home, vehicles


Scorched

SCORCHED – Smoke billows from a property on County Road 3855 near Boonsville Wednesday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Walking over the charred, blackened ground, John Erdahl peered at the burning remains of his mobile home as firefighters chased the final remnants of fire.

“All it is is starting over again. It’s no big thing,” Erdahl said. “It’s an adventure, man.”

Along with destroying the mobile home Erdahl shared with his wife and daughter at 1241 County Road 3855, fire consumed multiple vehicles, two RVs and three acres Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters from Boonsville/Balsora, Bridgeport, Cottondale, Lake Bridgeport and Salt Creek responded to battle the blaze.

“It was dispatched as a control burn that got out of control and turned into a grass fire,” said Boonsville/Balsora Assistant Chief Logan Penney. “We got some units en route, and halfway here it turned into a structure fire. It got a mobile home, a couple of RVs and two or three cars.

“When we got here, it was fully involved. The way it was dispatched, we were a little delayed in getting engines here because we were dispatched to a grass fire. Most of our tankers are set up to fight a little bit of it, so we used what assets we had available and made a defensive attack on it.”

Starting Over

STARTING OVER – John Erdahl watches helplessly as his home and much of his property burns. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Erdahl said he was burning trash in a trash pit that he keeps covered behind his residence.

“I was putting some other stuff in it and putting my lid back on,” Erdahl said. “[The wind] gusted a little bit and it caught a little bit. I’m in my bare feet and can’t stomp it out. By the time I could get ready, it was already too late.”

He went inside, woke up his wife, got her out of the home and dialed 911.

Erdahl said they had lived on the property for five to six years.

“We have family in the area, so we’re not in any bad shape,” Erdahl said.

Defensive Attack

DEFENSIVE ATTACK – A Bridgeport firefighter douses the blaze that destroyed a Boonsville home and property Wednesday afternoon. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Fire guts mobile home


Burnt

BURNT – A mobile home near New Fairview was destroyed by fire Tuesday evening. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A mobile home north of New Fairview was destroyed in a fire Tuesday night.

East Wise Fire Chief David Plankey said the house on Ridge Trail was fully involved when his department arrived on scene, with a grass fire covering about 1/3 acre behind the building. Plankey said the home was unoccupied. The fire started around 6:45 p.m.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

East Wise, Rhome and Decatur fire departments responded.

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Multiple fires torch county


Fiery Scene

FIERY SCENE – A Chico brush truck races across a field to battle a blaze on County Road 1430 Friday afternoon. The blaze torched 60 to 80 acres. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Multiple grass fires broke out in Wise County Friday afternoon on a critical fire danger day.

The National Weather Service office in Fort Worth issued a Red Flag Warning early Friday morning. By the early afternoon with temperatures in the low 80s and humidity levels in the low teens, fires began to spark, consuming large swaths of dry vegetation.

Firefighters from Bridgeport, Alvord, Chico, Paradise, Sand Flat and Crafton fought a 60- to 80-acre fire on County Road 1340.

“I’m sure of the cause yet,” said Wise County Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty. “We got it extinguished. Several structures were threatened, but no structures were lost.”

Cars Burned

CARS BURNED – A grass fire on Private Road 4732 destroyed two cars. Firefighters were able to protect several structures. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

East Wise, Rhome, Newark, Boyd, Justin and Haslet firefighters responded to a fire on Private Road 4732 just south of Farm Road 407. Multiple vehicles were destroyed. Firefighters were able to protect a trailer home.

Multiple agencies also responded to a large grass fire in the 1000 block of El Rancho Rio near Bridgeport.

Fire conditions were expected to improve over the weekend. There’s a chance for severe weather Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Temperatures are predicted to be in the mid to high 70s.

An elevated fire risk could return Monday with strong northwest winds between 15 to 25 mph.

Earlier in the week, Wise County commissioners renewed the burn ban, prohibiting burning on Red Flag or elevated fire risk days.

Joe Duty contributed to this report.

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Fire damages mobile home


Home Burns

HOME BURNS – A mobile home south of Boyd caught fire Tuesday morning. Officials are still trying to determine the cause of the blaze. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A mobile home outside of Boyd caught fire Tuesday morning.

Boyd Chief Chris Caster said when they reached the mobile home on County Road 4767, one end was in flames. Boyd and Newark firefighters quickly knocked the flames down. The fire occurred around 11 a.m.

Caster said the family living in the home made it safely out. They were still searching for a missing dog, but Caster said firefighters had looked through the home for the dog three times and found nothing. He believes it likely ran off during the fire.

Wise County Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty is investigating the cause of the fire.

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Fire consumes rock house


Burnt Husk

BURNT HUSK – The remains of a rock house in Cottondale still stood after it caught fire Saturday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A rock house in Cottondale was destroyed by fire early Saturday morning.

Wise County Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty said the blaze consumed the rock house, which is being considered a total loss. The house was located east of the Cottondale store.

As of Tuesday morning, Doughty said the cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Doughty is also still working to locate the owners of the property. He said the house is listed under a family trust with an address in Claude.

Cottondale, Paradise, Boyd and Salt Creek firefighters responded to the fire Saturday.

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Blaze damages home Friday

Blaze damages home Friday


House Fire

HOUSE FIRE – A home on Collins Street sustained water and smoke damage after a fire Friday night. Decatur, East Wise and Paradise firefighters fought the blaze. Messenger photo by Racey Burden

A Decatur home sustained heavy smoke and water damage after catching fire Friday night.

Decatur Fire Department Capt. Nate Mara said the fire appears to have started on the front porch and spread to the attic and front of the house on Collins Street.

The fire started around 7:30 p.m., and by 8:30 firefighters had already knocked down the flames and were clearing hot spots.

Mara said the cause remains under investigation, but it appeared to be accidental.

The family that lives in the home escaped without injury. Red Cross was called to assist them.

In addition to Decatur, East Wise and Paradise firefighters were also called to the scene.

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Inferno devours property; 8 departments  battle blaze

Inferno devours property; 8 departments battle blaze


Raging Blaze

RAGING BLAZE – Firefighters spray water on a roaring fire that consumed the property at 237 County Road 1637 Monday night. The flames devoured two mobile homes and spread to debris, bushes and trees in the yard. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Two mobile homes near Chico burst into a raging inferno after catching fire around 11 p.m. Monday.

Six people were displaced – five adults and one child – when the homes at 237 County Road 1637 were destroyed.

Wise County Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty said homeowner Johnny Hothouse told him the fire was started by a wood burning stove in one of the trailers, which Doughty confirmed through his investigation.

“Where I found the stove was consistent with where the fire department said the fire was when they first arrived,” Doughty said. “It wasn’t on any type of blocks or anything; the legs were just sitting on the floor.”

Ready and Waiting

READY AND WAITING – Hoses run along the roadway leading to firetrucks parked on County Road 1637 Monday night. Eight departments were called to get control of a fire that was started by a wood burning stove. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Hothouse and the other occupants escaped without injury, but four years ago the family wasn’t as fortunate. On Feb. 6, 2014, 14-year-old Christopher Conn, Hothouse’s stepson, was killed in a fire at the same address. According to then-fire marshal Chuck Beard, Conn was trapped in his room, which is where the fire started around 4 a.m. A space heater was to blame.

Doughty said this blaze completely destroyed one mobile home, gutted a second mobile home and damaged a shop, which was possibly being used as living quarters. A mini-van also burned, as well as a riding lawnmower and other debris that could not be identified.

Doughty said other vehicles on the property had heat damage to taillights and paint.

The fire originated in the house and spread quickly to debris around the home, trees and bushes. Firefighters managed to contain the flames to the Hothouse property, preventing further destruction in the neighborhood near Wise County Park.

Eight fire departments were dispatched with Chico, Sand Flat, Crafton, Lake Bridgeport and Bridgeport on scene at midnight. At that time, Alvord, Decatur and Paradise were on their way with tankers. Wise County medics and sheriff’s deputies also responded

Fire crews remained on scene until 3:30 a.m. They were called back when the fire rekindled at 5 a.m., but they had it extinguished by 5:50 a.m.

The Red Cross was called to assist Hothouse and the other occupants.

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Property owner cited before second blaze


Monday night’s fire on County Road 1637 was eerily similar to a tragedy that occurred on that property almost exactly four years ago.

When firefighters arrived just before 11:30 p.m., the scene looked much as it did on Feb. 6, 2014 – mobile homes engulfed in flames and burning debris with no clear path through the property.

LONG NIGHT – A firefighter faces a wall of flames while working to contain the blaze and keep it from spreading to neighboring homes. Crews were on scene from about 11:30 p.m. Monday to 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Although this week’s fire resulted in the loss of only material things, the 2014 fire was fatal.

Christopher Conn, 14, was trapped in his room after a space heater at the foot of his bed started a fire. Unable to escape, his remains were discovered in the ruins of the home hours after the fire was extinguished. He was an eighth grader at Chico Middle School and lived at the residence with his stepfather Johnny Hothouse, his mother and little brother.

According to a 2014 Messenger story, Hothouse received second- and third-degree burns to his arms, neck and face and suffered smoke inhalation as he attempted to pull the boy through a window to safety.

The community grieved with the family, giving monetary donations and helping to clean and clear the property.

Eventually the Hothouses moved back to the property, which is near Wise County Park, and over the course of time again let debris pile up and left numerous vehicles parked on the property.

Conditions had become so poor that on Nov. 30, 2017, Wise County Public Works Department issued a notice of violation of the Texas Health and Safety Code after receiving a complaint about an illegal dumpsite on the property.

New Public Works Director Keith Stone said according to the notice of violation, Hothouse had 30 days to clean up the property.

“They did nothing,” he said, describing the property as having “large piles of trash in the yard.”

On Jan. 18, 2018, a citation was issued for the same charge, and Hothouse was scheduled to appear in the Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Court on Feb. 8.

Judge Callie Manning said Hothouse failed to appear, and a show cause hearing is set, giving Hothouse 30 days to appear, account for his absence and address the charge.

Manning said if he does not appear for the second date, he would either be charged with failure to appear or a warrant would be issued for his arrest.

Manning said in reviewing the records of the Precinct 2 court, it appears this was Hothouse’s first citation for violating the Texas Health and Safety Code.

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Blaze consumes barn, farm equipment


Fire Burns 4 Acres

FIRE BURNS 4 ACRES- A blaze torched land, barn and farm equipment on County Road 3657 Friday afternoon. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Fire destroyed a barn, outbuilding and several pieces of farm equipment on County Road 3657 in Salt Creek’s fire district Friday afternoon.

Firefighters from several departments joined Salt Creek in battling the blaze that torched four acres.

“The fire burned through the equipment, tires and anything else flammable and extended into a large barn and another outbuilding,” said Wise County Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty.

The fire was reported shortly after 2 p.m.

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La Quinta evacuated due to fire


The La Quinta Inn and Suites in Bridgeport was evacuated Wednesday morning following a fire.

There was no obvious damage to the building, and guests reported seeing smoke but no flames. As of 9 a.m., firefighters were still trying to determine the origin of the fire.

Five people were temporarily trapped in an elevator while trying to escape, but no one was injured.

Stephen Adair of Jasper had just returned to his second-floor room to sleep after working a 12-hour shift at Lindsey State Jail in Jacksboro.

“The fire alarm went off and the lights started flashing,” he said. “I thought it might be a false alarm, but then the power went off.”

Adair made his way outside via the stairs and said he couldn’t see smoke but could smell it.

Read more in the weekend Messenger on newsstands Saturday.

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Multiple departments battle fire at FM 455 and 51


Firefighters from departments across Wise, Denton and Montague counties battled a large grass fire near the intersection of Farm Roads 51 and 455 Thursday afternoon in Slidell.
The blaze, which burned nearly 400 acres, was sparked from a mower blade striking a rock, according to Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard.
“That’s just how dry it was,” Beard said.
Summer-like temperatures in the low 90s, humidity levels in the teens and southern gusts up to 23 mph fueled the fire that was reported shortly before noon.
“It was a recipe for disaster,” Beard said.
Greenwood-Slidell Fire Chief Adam North said the blaze originated off of FM 51 and spread. Both FM 455 and 51 were closed as firefighters worked the fire.
Fire lines were set by members of the U.S. Forest Service along the two roads to try to contain it south of 455 and east of 51. It briefly jumped 455 and burned an additional 400 yards before being extinguished.
Slidell schools were evacuated as a precaution.
“We had just started our last lunch and made the decision to get kids off campus,” said Slidell ISD Superintendent Greg Enis. “We loaded five school buses and headed toward Sanger.”
The elementary and middle school students were taken to a park, and the high school students to eat in Sanger. After getting word from North that the fire was contained, students were brought back to campus shortly after 3 p.m. Bus routes in the district ran as normal.
“They still had 455 and 51 blocked off and we had to make some adjustments and use some county roads to get everyone home,” Enis said.
Two tank trucks from Quasar Energy Services out of Gainesville supplied water at the scene to fire tankers.
“Our owner drove by and said ‘It looks like they needed help,’” said Ryan Sicking. “We brought them a little water.”
Among the fire departments at the scene were Greenwood-Slidell, Decatur, Alvord, East Wise, Forestburg, Krum, Sanger, Lake Cities, Coppell and U.S. Forest Service. Wise County medics and the Department of Public Safety also assisted. Troopers led traffic down FM 51.


No structures or vehicles were damaged in the fire.
“[Firefighters] did a great job using natural barriers to contain it,” Beard said.
He added that it will be monitored throughout the evening.

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Fire destroys trailer in New Fairview


Fire destroyed a trailer home at 102 Lange Way in New Fairview Friday night.
Firefighters from East Wise, Decatur, Rhome, Newark and Haslet battled the blaze that was reported at 10 p.m. as a fire investigation.
By the time the first units arrived, the home was fully involved.
“The whole back side was on fire,” said Jim Blackney, East Wise Assistant Fire Chief. “We went defensive right off. There was no way to send anyone in.”
The structure was a total loss as fire tore through it.
The cause of the fire was unknown Friday night. Blackney said investigators from the Wise County Fire Marshal’s office would be on scene Saturday morning after firefighters finished an extensive overhaul.
Blackney said the single occupant was out of the home by the time firefighters arrived. Medics were called to the scene to check the man for smoke inhalation. He refused to go to the hospital.
The Red Cross were asked to make the scene to help the resident.

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Blaze rips through mobile home


Firefighters were called to 313 County Road 4869 near Briar just before midnight Saturday as a blaze devoured a mobile home.

Boyd Firefighter Mason Del Castillo, who is also a shift supervisor, said the house was fully involved when the first crew arrived.

Initial reports on the police scanner indicated there might have been a small explosion, but Del Castillo said that wasn’t true.

“There was some popping when we got here … it could have been leftover fireworks or maybe ammunition,” he said. “But there was no actual explosion.”

Jeff Doughty with the Wise County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.  In addition to Boyd, several other departments were also on scene, as well as Wise County EMS and a sheriff’s deputy.

The homeowner was not at the property when the fire started. More information will be posted as it’s available.

 

 

 

 

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Fire leads to apartment evacuations

Fire leads to apartment evacuations


On Scene

ON SCENE – Bridgeport firefighters work to extinguish a small fire that resulted in the evacuation of an apartment building Thursday. Messenger photo by David Talley

Tenants at the Henderson Terrace Apartments in Bridgeport were evacuated Thursday evening due to a small fire in an exterior wall of Building 2.

A nearby homeowner said he witnessed electrical sparks shoot about 4 feet from the center of the building near the stairwell before the fire started.

Bridgeport Fire Chief Terry Long said he suspected the fire started due to an electrical issue and spread throughout aged wood. There was minor damage to two units.

“As old as these buildings are, we got lucky,” Long said.

Firefighters used a thermal imaging camera to spot the heat inside a wall and used drills and other tools to reach and extinguish the blaze.

The apartments are on Henderson Street. Bridgeport Police Department assisted with the evacuations. The Wise County Fire Marshal’s office also responded to the scene.

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Fire destroys house

Fire destroys house


Total Loss

TOTAL LOSS – Charred rubble is all that remains after fire tore through a lakeside home Friday night. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Two structures near Lake Bridgeport were destroyed by fire Friday night.

Five fire departments responded to a report of a house fire in the 300 block of Private Road 1520 near Lake Bridgeport around 8:45 p.m. Friday.

The first units on the scene reported a single-story home fully engulfed in flames.

Fire departments from Bridgeport, Lake Bridgeport, Chico, Sand Flat and Runaway Bay responded.

Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard said the fire destroyed both an unoccupied home and a storage building. The fire was fanned by a 30-mile-per-hour wind, which also caused a 3-acre grass fire.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, Beard said.

The home’s owner, Cecil Sanderlin of Hurst, was at the property at the time but was not injured, Beard said.

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Mobile home, camper burn


Home Burns

HOME BURNS – A mobile home between Chico and Sunset burned down Friday afternoon. Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Washburn said the fire started in a trash burn pit that was left unattended. Messenger photo by Racey Burden

A mobile home between Sunset and Chico burned to the ground Friday afternoon.

Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Washburn said a passerby who lived near the home on County Road 1886 saw the fire and stopped. At the time, it was confined to a pit with trash in it.

By the time fire departments arrived on scene, the mobile home, a camper and a few surrounding outbuildings were on fire, along with some cars in the yard.

Washburn said the mobile home is occupied, but the homeowner was not there at the time of the fire. He said the blaze appears to have spread from the pit fire.

No one was hurt, but neighbors did rescue two ducks from the mobile home.

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