LAKE TRAVIS, Texas (KXAN) — What started as a grass fire near Lake Travis led Travis County Sheriff’s Office deputies to evacuate two homes as a precaution Thursday afternoon.
The fire started in the 28000 block of Turner Ranch Road — southwest of Farm to Market 1431 and Muleshoe Bend Trail — around 12:22 p.m.
Travis County Emergency Services District #1 responded with six brush trucks and a tender truck. STAR Flight and the Leander Fire Department were called in to help put out the 25-acre fire.
“You get this dry grass out here, we haven’t had any rain in a long time, and it’s just like a tinder box,” said Travis County Fire Rescue ESD 1 Battalion Chief Marcus Faske. “It gets into the cedars, and next thing you know you have pretty good sized flame fronts. Once it gets into those trees it’s hard to stop.”
Faske said his crew had control of the fire at first, but then the wind changed direction and made the fire extremely dangerous and harder for his crew to fight.
“The wind actually was blowing in one direction more out of the southeast, and then it changed to the southwest, so basically the fire actually was burning away from us, and the next thing we knew, we had to move the command post and our tender water supply operations, because the fire started coming back our way,” he said.
The fire got within 10-15 feet of an unoccupied home. No one was injured during the fire and ranchers are checking on their livestock.
Officials say the fire was started by a rancher who didn’t know the county was under a burn ban.
“He said he thought everything was fine, and he turned his back and he went to do something else, and the next thing you know, the wind changes and you get a little gust,” Faske said.
Illegally starting a fire during a burn ban is punishable by anywhere from a $500 fine to felony charges, depending on the damage to life and property.
Travis County Fire Rescue is urging people who live in Travis County to be aware of the fire danger during dry conditions.
“Keep track of the burn ban, and if you have any questions, call your local fire department.”
While the fire took firefighters around two hours to put out, crews stayed in the area until after dark, and plan to return around midnight, to make sure the fire doesn’t spark back up.