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Updated: Thursday, 08 Sep 2011, 2:45 PM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 07 Sep 2011, 7:46 AM CDT
BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) - Bastrop County officials said Wednesday that the largest fire in Central Texas will not likely get any larger now that the winds have died down.
But officials said at a late afternoon news conference that the number of homes destroyed in Bastrop, now put at 576, could double by the time officials finish surveying the scene.
However, the Texas Forest Service put the number at 785 late Wednesday night.
They also said the efforts of the crews who are fighting the fire and assessing the damage is being hampered by people trying to enter the affected neighborhoods.
"I would ask that everyone calm down," said Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering. "I know everyone is frustrated. We are working on a re-entry plan."
Pickering said that the area remains extremely dangerous because of downed trees and power lines, and by the aircraft flying overhead dumping hundreds of gallons of water on the fire.
"It could harm or kill someone," he said.
Earlier in the day, officials said that the fire that has been tearing through Bastrop since Sunday was now 30 percent contained.
They also announced that State Highway 21 west from State Highway 21 near Bastrop has reopened.
The Southern Area Type 1 Red Team will be in place in Bastrop County early Wednesday morning, and they will have access to firefighting experts from across country.
They will be able to plan better attacks on the fires that continue to destroy homes and lives.
Two people have died while two fires continue to burn on either side of the city of Bastrop.
Bastrop complex fire
The biggest fire is just east of the city, which has consumed 38,089 acres and destroyed 576 homes. It is 30 percent contained.
Union Chapel fire
The smaller fire, to the west of Bastrop and called the Union Chapel fire, has consumed about 800 acres and destroyed 28 homes. Some 150 homes are threatened, and 200 people have been evacuated. That fire is only 20 percent contained.
Getting the biggest fire under control has been an issue because resources were scarce in the beginning. Now, there are close to about 400 firefighters in place along the 24-mile-long, 20-mile-wide fire.
It's been tough for bigger fire agencies, such as the Austin Fire Department, to send resources the last few days because they have been busy fighting local fires and were stretched thin even at that point.
However, they are now able to slowly step in and help, sending 34 firefighters to help specifically with protecting homes.
Later Wednesday, we may learn the names of the two people who died.
The donations and help
Donations are continuing to pour into the Bastrop Convention Center, where clothing, toiletries, pet food, water and other items sit outside for wildfire victims. Those items will be shipped to the Rundell Business Park later Wednesday morning.
There will be a shift change for law enforcement at that time.
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