Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hays County Urges Caution as Wildfires Rage

Hays County residents are urged to be cautious as wildfires spread across Central Texas, which have resulted in two deaths, hundreds of homes devastated and several mass evacuations, officials say.

A large wildfire forced the evacuation of more than 200 homes north of Dripping Springs along the Hays-Travis County line. The fire, dubbed Pedernales Fire One, charred at least 6,400 acres and destroyed or damaged almost 70 homes as of Tuesday, according to Homeland Security and Emergency Response officials in Austin.
Another 45-acre wildfire between Wimberley and San Marcos ignited Friday night before being contained the next day, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office said. No evacuations or damage was involved in this fire. Also, no injuries have been reported in both fires.

Any rain to smother regional fires is unlikely as forecasters predict no chance for moisture in the next few weeks.

Kyle and Buda Fire Departments offered firefighters and trucks to the Pedernales Fire One fire this week. They were also called out to another blaze Tuesday afternoon in Caldwell County at the intersection of Texas 21 and U.S. 183, they say.
Kyle Fire Deputy Chief Rick Beaman said that his firefighters have also been tied up in several calls of local residents burning trash.
“I can’t believe anybody would be burning at this time,” he said. “We have enough to deal with.”
He reminds everyone to adhere to burn ban restrictions and not to flick cigarettes out of cars or let chains on trailers drag along roads.

Late Sunday, the Pedernales Fire One fire moved south toward the county line from the Spicewood area. As night fell, recommended evacuations were issued for about 500 residents in northwestern Hays County, authorities say.
A shelter was set up at Dripping Springs Middle School, where only around 20 people sought refuge, said Charlie Plassmann, of the county’s Community Emergency Response Team. Many other people stayed with friends and family as well local motels, he said.
On Monday, large plumes of smoke continued to billow over the area, where almost 210 homes were given a mandatory evacuation order that night. Around 9:30 p.m., residents were allowed to return to their homes as firefighters were able to prevent the fire from crossing Hamilton Pool Road, Hays County spokesperson Laureen Chernow said.

The American Red Cross of Central Texas is accepting monetary donations to help those affected by the Central Texas wildfires and water donations for firefighters. For more information, go to

Fire prevention tips from the Texas Department of Transportation:
-Avoid parking vehicles in tall, dry grass and weeds, which can be ignited by hot catalytic converters
-Crush cigarettes in an ashtray and make sure they are completely out
-Be cautious about outdoor activities that might cause sparks or fires. Sparks can easily escape from burning trash
-Avoid using welding or grinding equipment near dry weeds and grass
- Protect your property by clearing brush and grass away from homes and buildings
-Prune lower branches around structures
-Make sure areas under utility lines are clear of brush, tall grass and trees so that utility service will continue
-Create a fire break by clearing vegetation from areas between your home and nearby fields or wildland areas

Post courtesy of the Hays Free Press

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