Dark plumes of smoke hovered over South Waco on Wednesday afternoon as a grass fire spread through 10 to 20 acres in the rural Downsville area, acting Waco Fire Battalion Chief Brooks Tucker said.

Smoke billowed from the 200 block of Lockwood Lane, about four miles from downtown Waco, shortly before noon when the Downsville Volunteer Fire Department was called to a pasture fire. Several area fire departments were called to help battle the fire.

"We responded with mutual aid to help Downsville and Robinson with the grass fire," Tucker said. "Right now, the wind is not too bad, and of course it is hot, but the vegetation is extremely overgrown and there is a lot of rough terrain."

The pasture is a former landfill, causing various slopes in the area, Tucker said. Debris, including old plastic drums, old tires and other discarded items also fueled the blaze.

Tricia Meadors, owner of Guru Paintball Park, said the fire reached some portions of the park and damaged some equipment in the paintball fields. Meadors said similar fires have been an issue in the past for her business at 2234 E. Tinsley Road, but she appreciates the fast action by firefighters.

"This time, it took some of our barrels out on some of our playing fields, a portion of our back property and it started coming up the back part of our fields and burned some stuff there, but the major part of our field is OK," she said. "This happens about once a year, but I have thousands of dollars in equipment out there, and if it ever got to one of our mobile homes where we store the nitrogen, it could have been really bad.

"I don't know what started it, but all the firefighters worked really hard and got it contained."

Fire crews with the Downsville Volunteer Fire Department, Robinson Volunteer Fire Department, Hallsburg Volunteer Fire Department, Golinda Volunteer Fire Department and Waco Fire Department rotated positions and extinguished hot spots throughout the afternoon. By 2 p.m., the fire appeared to be contained.

Heavy pieces of equipment were parked in the pasture when fire crews arrived, but it was not immediately known how the fire started, Tucker said.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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