People displaced from homes as windy conditions help spark fires in east Austin

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several people have been displaced from their homes due to two fires that broke out in east Austin on Saturday morning.

Powerful winds are blowing through Central Texas Saturday, leading to a fire weather warning that is active through 6 p.m.

The Austin Fire Department said those gusts played a role in the first of the two fires, which started at an apartment on Elmont Drive shortly after 5 a.m.

Firefighters were able to hold the exterior fire to a balcony, while the apartment’s sprinkler system limited the spread of the flames inside, AFD said.

AFD added that “several” adults living in the apartment have been displaced.  

Firefighters tackle a blaze at a home on Porter Street in Austin (Picture: Austin Fire Department)

The department said BBQ ashes that were not disposed of properly sparked the fire when they were hit by strong winds.

The second fire happened on Porter Street at about 7:30 a.m.

Five people were displaced from their home. AFD described the cause as improperly discarded smoking material, causing $25,000 of total damage.

It comes just a day after Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell declared a state of disaster and banned outdoor burning after at least four fires started in the county.

The largest fire grew to 171 acres, but was almost entirely contained by Friday evening and no homes were threatened.

The message to restrict outdoor burning was echoed by the Pedernales Fire Department, which tweeted: “Absolutely no burning today due to high winds. Gusts predicted at up to 50 mph.”

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