He had smelled smoke earlier but simply thought someone was barbecuing near his home in the River Oaks subdivision.
He was wrong.
It was a neighbor at the door with a dire message.
Firefighters don’t yet have a cause of the fire that started off Donna Circle near Farm-to-Market Road 888 in south Bee County.
The charred ground though tells the story of just what will happen when dry grass ignites.
That afternoon flames were leaping through the pastures outside Powell’s home, spreading through the dry grass.
Powell went to warn another neighbor and then grabbed what water hoses he had to save his property.
Every minute mattered as the fire raged.
“I only had so many water hoses and they wouldn’t go out that far,” he said recalling his efforts to keep the fire as far away as possible.
Within minutes, the fire jumped across nine acres, reducing everything in its path to smoldering embers.
“The guy renting a mobile home next to me, it was only a few feet from his house,” Powell said.
Firefighters saved that home, keeping the blowing embers from igniting its composite shingle roof.
But as the fire spread, Powell had his concerns.
“I was concerned about the wind blowing the fire right in front my house and catching the trees on fire,” he said.
As the fire loomed closer, Powell continued to spray the grass and trees.
It was now only an acre away from his home.
“But the wind was blowing in my direction,” he said.
The fire ultimately destroyed a travel trailer, damaged three other structures and charred about 50 acres.
Members of the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department were called to join the Skidmore and the Papalote volunteers at 3:21 p.m.
Firefighters reported that three tanker trucks, four large brush trucks, two smaller brush trucks and two pumpers were used in extinguishing the flames.
Jason Collins and Gary Kent contributed to this story. Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com. Kent is a reporter and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.