"24 Hours In Winnsboro"

Valley Feed Mill Fire Forces 1/2 Mile Evacuation

[Winnsboro, TX - Wood County]

Tuesday 9/25/2018,  updated 9/26/18 @ Noon, article concluded 9/27/18 at 9 a.m.

Article now cached (archived); this article is left viewable by the public as a fine example of first responder teamwork.

Winnsboro Police Dept.’s FB post
9/26/2018, 11 p.m. hour

"Yesterday, our community experienced a major hazmat event. It truly could have been a lot worse. There were many people involved in this event that I think deserve a huge thank you. Every officer that works for WPD responded to my request for assistance. I had 3 dispatchers answering calls and guiding us, and the community...i can't thank them, enough. Volunteers with numerous fire departments gave their time to us, many I don't know. Huge thank you to Tully and the incident commander Daniel....awesome job to both of you. Our own, Billy Saucier...i was in awe of the job you did on the evacuation process. All of the Winnsboro FD were incredible. Nothing surprising about the job that Wilburn and Jody Hettich did...you just get to where you expect nothing but the best from both of them. I know I am leaving many out, but thank you all! I have no idea where all of the food came from, but I will thank the ones that I know of....Richie's brought food at least twice, Subway, the Lunchbox downtown brought burgers today, Pizza Inn, and if I left you out, it is because I didn't see where it came from. I would come in from the incident area and there would be good food. Winnsboro, you are an incredible community and I love working for you. If you see a first responder, let them know that they did a great job...not a single injury that I know of!" 

(Police Chief Andy Chester)
Source  https://www.facebook.com/114244665396066/posts/1203132909840564/

City of Winnsboro’s FB post
9/26/2018 Noon hour

HAZMAT recommends lifting mandatory evacuation now. Fire Marshall, TCEQ, EPA, DPS, And EMS concur. WPD will coordinate removal of barricades.  Air monitoring continues to be good. Monitoring occurred at numerous locations including WMMS. All within good limits. Ammonium nitrate is not burning. No smoke. The WFD will put water on the other piles. No issues.  Open evacuation area. Feed mill will remain closed while work continues by HAZMAT."
Source: https://www.facebook.com/1035495136588115/posts/1279591045511855/



11:19 a.m. 26 Sept 2018 Wednesday

“EVACUATION HAS BEEN LIFTED!! We are opening up highways and streets as this is being typed! Thank everyone so much for your support, patience and cooperation!”
Source: https://www.facebook.com/114244665396066/posts/1202894039864451/

Original Published Article by WinnsboroTexas.org

At approximately 12:14 CST Tuesday, a fire broke out at Valley Feed Mills in Winnsboro. Multiple first responders and fire departments are on scene, as well as county emergency response, state officials, HAZMAT, EPA, TCEQ.

Please AVOID the area. The police evacuated a 1/2 mile radius area late Tuesday afternoon, including businesses, Autumn Winds Assisted Living, Madison Oaks Apartments  and residences on Circle Drive. 

Reports (unofficial) are that no one is injured. The fire is reported not contained as of Tuesday afternoon.  A Valley Feed official said his “workers were working on the fertilizer plant and hit a nail that sparked the fire.” He also said, “as long as water is not put on the fire is should burn itself out.”

Hwy 11 is closed in Winnsboro, at Walnut Street through FM 515 / Coke Rd in both directions.   FM 515 Coke Road is closed from Hwy 11 through  FM 852.

For authoritative and OFFICIAL updates, see updates at the following Internet sites, or contact the following:

  • INCIDENT COMMAND AT COKE RD. & LIVE OAK (Church of Christ parking lot)
  • ​Evacuees at the Rock Gym, 100 Newsome Street

Day 1 - Afternoon Evening UPDATES

City of Winnsboro’s OFFICIAL post, verbatim, as follows. 

Tuesday afternoon, 9/25/18

“The Fire at Valley Feed Mill involved Ammonium Nitrate and the safest course of action is for the fire to burn itself out. The product is an irritant to eyes, nose and respiratory functions. We are evacuating everyone within a ½ mile radius around the location of the fire which is 1211 E. Coke Rd., Winnsboro, Tx." 

Anyone outside of this radius should shelter in place and refrain opening windows, etc. Basically protect yourself from any type of smoke. People with any respiratory type illness – including but not limited to COPD, Emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, etc., should remain inside and they should continue their current medical regimen. One Assisted Living Home, (Autumn Winds), is being evacuated as a precaution due to the proximity of the fire. Currently setting up an information/hydration shelter for those evacuated at WISD Rock Gym at 100 Newsome Street, Winnsboro. An ambulance has been staged at the Winnsboro Fire Station at 501 S Main, Winnsboro for any citizens that have any medical issues related the fire.

End of city post.

City of Winnsboro’s OFFICIAL post

9:33 p.m. Tues., 9/25/18
“The situation will be monitored through the night by emergency Management personnel. The evacuation will remain in effect until tomorrow. We will evaluate the situation tomorrow and keep the public informed. Additional info is available by dialing 211.”

Winnsboro ISD’s OFFICIAL post
9:24  p.m. Tues., 9/25/18 
Susan Morton, WISD Superintendent, said in a release, “We have been cleared by air quality specialists to have all campuses up and running at regular times tomorrow. We will re-route the buses to avoid 515 and parts of Hwy 11. Please, be patient with us tomorrow morning. .We will also hold See You at the Pole for MMS in the gym. Other campuses will hold at the flag poles. We are exercising caution at MMS and holding all activities inside for the day. Safety is our utmost goal. We appreciate our first responders so much....especially our own Officer Jody Hettich. This is what a close community does for each other. Everybody's last name is WINNSBORO!”

Winnsboro Police Dept. statement.
9:57 p.m. Tuesday 9/25/2018
“Just an update on the current situation. The fire is under control, and the risk for explosion is basically 0, the primary concern now is the smoke, gasses, and fumes that the fire is emitting. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has requested a 1/2 mile radius of evacuations around the site of the fire.

"This evacuation will continue throughout the night as the fire and fumes will be monitored throughout the night. We hope that the evacuation will be lifted tomorrow, but sadly, we do not make that call. The TCEQ, Texas Department of Public Safety, Wood County Emergency Management/Fire Marshall, and local Fire Departments and Haz-Mat organizations have decades of training on situations just like this, and they are all on the scene to assist and try and protect the health and safety of all of the surrounding area.

"As soon as we have an update, we will make it known. In the meantime, call 211 for any updated information. We had reports that 211 was not working earlier today, but we believe it is now fixed. There are no schools campuses that are in the affected area, so if you have any questions as to the cancellation of schools, please contact the Winnsboro I.S.D.

"The American Red Cross is set up at the Rock Gym and also has drinks and snacks for any of the evacuees. Meanwhile, the evacuation zone will continue to be closed, that includes E. Broadway from Walnut to FM 515, and FM 515 from FM 852 to Hwy 11. We will let you know ASAP if there are any changes. “

End of WPD post. 

INITIAL POSTS - WinnboroTexas.org FB posts

[Unofficial Update].

At approximately 12:14 CST a fire broke out at Valley Feed Mills in Winnsboro. Multiple first responders and fire departments are on scene.

Please AVOID the area. The police are just came by and said they are NOW evacuating within a half mile radius. (Rubberneckers are not needed at this time.)

Reports (unofficial) are that no one is injured. The fire is reported not contained at this time. Tuesday afternoon.

Hwy 515 / Coke Rd is closed in both directions in either side of the fire. Businesses in close proximity have been evacuated as a precautionary measure.

A Valley Feed official said his “workers were working on the fertilizer plant and hit a nail that sparked the fire.” He also said, “as long as water is not put on the fire is should burn itself out.”

2:45  p.m. Tues., 9/25/18
Update:  The police dispatch non-emergency number operator just confirmed Hwy 11 is NOT shut down. (since this post, it was shut down by Tuesday evening.) However, drivers canNOT turn from Hwy 11 to FM 515.

3:25  p.m. Tues., 9/25/18
City of Winnsboro's OFFICIAL post. 
“UPDATE: The area west of Valley Feed Mill is considered safe at this time. Areas north & east are evacuated until further notice. Coke Rd is shut down @ FM 852 East & Hwy 11 until further notice. The City Park is open, however, CR 4400 is blocked until further notice.”

3:40 p.m. Tues., 9/25/18
Crews will be working into the night. State officials will come to the scene. The incident command is set up at the church of Christ parking lot on Coke Road at Live Oak. Wood County Emergency response vehicle is parked there and TCEQ officials also responded.

5:22 p.m. Tues., 9/25/18
Word has it from a resident that Maintenance at Madison Oaks Apartments on FM 852 behind Autumn Winds, is evacuating all apartment units now, including all pets.  CONFIRMED by maintenance; apartment community properly evacuated.

5:44 p.m. Tues., 9/25/18
Reports come by in (unvetted) that evacuation area is expanded to one (1)mile. (later verified to be only 1/2 mile). Reports also that Sale Barn on Hwy 11 evacuated.

5:50 p.m. Tues., 9/25/18
Bonnie at Tractor Supply says they had to close early for the night.
5:52 p.m. Tues., 9/25/18
Marian Richie reports WISD school buses used to help evacuate residents to the Rock Gym being used for Evacuees, civilian needs and food.

5:55 p.m. Tues., 9/25/18
WORD COMING IN. (Unvetted) Hwy 11 near Keller’s Creamery being shut down.

Editor's note: I’ve got to STOP now because my husband just called and they are evacuating Autumn Winds assisted Living. My hubby is picking up my father in law to bring to our home and I got to take care of the home and family first first.


Winnsboro Police Dept. statement.
7:00 a.m. hour Wednesday 9/26/2018
"The evacuation is still in place. Hwy 11 from Walnut to FM 515 is still closed as well as FM 515 from FM 852 to SH 11. We will update if anything changes. NOTE: All businesses within the evacuation zone will be closed today until further notice. This closure includes deliveries. This includes Keller’s Creamery."

Source: https://www.facebook.com/114244665396066/posts/1202770566543465/

Wood County Precinct Judge 
Sub-courthouse statement.
7  a.m. Wednesday 9/26/2018
Cindy Weems reports “Wood County Sub courthouse at 1001 East Coke Road will be closed today until air quality is determined to be safe. Unless further notice, we will reopen Thursday at 8:00am as normal.”
Source:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/NewsWinnsboro/permalink/1773911079393887/

9:05 a.m.  Wednesday 9/26/2018
From a quick call to the non-emergency number at the PD, they state the emergency response officials are still conducting air quality testing. When they have announcement for additional info or concerns, they'll post it. The scene is still under evacuation and the specified roads as already published.

9:55 a.m. Wednesday
City of Winnsboro’s OFFICIAL FB post
“Update: The EPA and TCEQ report that air quality is good. They report no threat from air quality. The evacuation will stay in effect through 11:00 a.m. at which time there will be another assessment.”
Source:  https://www.facebook.com/1035495136588115/posts/1279539452183681/

[End of 24-hour day, writer's incident blog.]

c.g. Willis Reporting for WinnsboroTexas.org



Fine Art, Wine, Cigars come from near and far, all over Texas, California and the South, to show their artistic talents at the juried Winnsboro Fine Art & Wine Festival.  Here's some pictures from this year's  (2018) Show.​  Photographs subject copyright (C.G. Willis), and artists work is subject to respective artist copyright.

Hooves & Halos Fall Playday is set for


from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the

Winnsboro Rodeo Grounds and city park,

900 Wheeler Drive, Winnsboro, TX.

Go here to register to participate for free:  https://hoovesandhalos.org/#more

Hooves & Halos, Nonprofit Organization, hosts Equine & recreational programs for children/adults with challenges and children in crisis, and hosts a Fall and Spring play days event very similar to the Handicappable Rodeos.    


Roughly 1800 meals were served and about 80 bus loads of participants enjoyed the day.

The guests include special needs children and adults, the elderly (especially nursing home residents), veterans and their children/families, prisoners children, troubled children, Hospice and ill children, elderly, and all their families and caregivers/teachers that want to come and many others who need to feel loved. Hooves and Halos is a team of volunteers using horses (and other animals) to reach many different groups of people that live in challenging situations. We also have many different recreational activities for our guests to enjoy. We are a Christian based organization dedicated to helping hurting people. We provide an adventure, an escape from the trials of life, if only for a few hours.

Johnette, key organizer, posted that the volunteer meeting was @ 7:45am on Thursday morning, at the registration desk. It will be set up in the road on the west side of the arena on Wheeler Drive. The group started the day with prayer and volunteers received information needed for the day; volunteers were encouraged to arrive as early as possible. The buses started rolling in around 8:30, and volunteers didn't want to get caught in that line. They expected at least  80 buses, probably more.  Horses were in the arena by 8, 8:30 at the latest. They tested them all to make sure they are not having a bad day. They, like us, could get up on the wrong side of the stall!!

“On Wednesday, October 31, they set up everything for Thursday's Playday. At 10am, they started food prep and decorating in the City Auditorium. They welcomed most anyone who liked to come help.  The outside set-up depended on the weather. The group started setting up the loading ramps, tents, tables and activity areas, early in the day. According to the weather forecast, the rain had stopped from the prior day and the temperature was in the 50's.  They scheduled 7pm the night before for testing and training new horses.”

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Monday, January 21, 2019

11 a.m - 2 p.m.

Winnsboro City Civic Center, 900 Wheeler Drive.  Helping Young People Excel is a group that commits to serving the community for the betterment of our local youth.  The Annual MLK celebration was held on Monday, January 21, 2019, and was a free event that included Public Speakers, Honoring the life of MLK and the spirit of his accomplishments in equality for all Americans and community unity.










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