Hudson Bend fire may have been started by illegal controlled burn, says fire chief

Austin

Property near Lake Travis was under construction, 3-4 buildings on site

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas — (KXAN) — Lake Travis Fire Rescue battled a large structure fire in the Hudson Bend area west of Austin on Sunday.

They received a call of a large unoccupied under construction building on fire at 12:02 p.m. located near the Vintage Villas on Eck Lane. It has been classified as a third alarm fire.

Investigators believe it was caused by an illegal controlled burn by the property owner.

Right now, Travis County is under a burn ban until Feb. 7.

“I was horrified,” said homeowner JoAnn Ellis, who lives nearby.

She was walking her dog when she saw the black smoke.

“I went down onto our lot down there to see if I could see what was burning and I saw the flames coming out from under the roof of the house,” Ellis recalled.

Lake Travis Fire Rescue Chief Robert Abbott says three to four buildings were on the property.

Firefighters got the blaze under control after about two hours.

Ellis says she’s been worried about the property for a while.

“It’s been sitting there vacant for many years and I knew it was becoming a fire hazard because of all the cold and the hot and all the papers were blowing off and it was a mess,” she said.

Abbott said units will remain on the scene likely into Monday morning to keep the fire suppressed, monitor hot-spots and continue the investigation.

He said crews had to battle high winds and cramped quarters.

“We are doing our best to control this and to do that we need to do it within the confines of the parameters of these roads. We ask that people that don’t immediately live here not to come down to this area just to congest the area. We need to keep firefighters safe from the traffic that keeps coming down the streets,” Chief Abbott says.

The Travis County Fire Marshall is still deciding whether to give the property owner a citation.

That person could be held liable for any damages to other properties.

Ellis said if investigators determine the property owner did in fact cause the fire, she hopes there’s a citation.

“He put a lot of us in danger and like I say, had the wind been worse and in the right direction, it could’ve been a lot worse,” Ellis said.

No civilians or firefighters were injured.

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