BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Officials said “fire behavior has greatly reduced” over the past few hours, following a wildfire erupting in Bastrop County earlier Tuesday.
“No significant growth of the fire has occurred since the map of the approximate area was added on this original post,” Bastrop County officials said late Tuesday. “Our tactical objectives for night shift include continued structure protection and constructing containment line using heavy equipment.”
This comes after a scheduled controlled burn moved outside its boundaries and likely caused a “very active” wildfire in Bastrop County Tuesday afternoon, officials say. Nearby residents are being asked to evacuate.
The Texas A&M Forest Service is responding to area of 100 Park Road 1A. Crews were working to put out the Rolling Pines Fire, which is an estimated 783 acres and 30% contained as of Wednesday morning. According to Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape, more than 250 families have been evacuated.
Bastrop County ESD No. 2 officials confirmed residents of the Pine Hill Drive, Pine Tree Loop, Lisa, Linda and Porter roads and KC Drive will remain evacuated until midday Wednesday at the earliest. Bluebonnet Electric Co-op has turned off power to those locations, and damages cannot be checked for until daylight.
“Heavy smoke has created black-out conditions and fire trucks are patrolling. The smoke has made searching for hidden fires ESD No. 2 officials and County OEM officials will decide tomorrow morning when residents can return,” officials said in a statement.
An 8 p.m. update confirmed the fire continues to hold along Power Plant Road and State Highway 21. Containment lines are continually being constructed, and resources are patrolling evacuated areas “to detect any containment issues.”
Currently, the fire is holding along Power Plant Road and along Highway 21. Resources are in evacuated areas patrolling to detect any containment issues with additional resources being ordered for tonight and tomorrow. Containment lines are still being constructed. Winds are expected to die down this evening with increasing relative humidity throughout the night.Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management, 8 p.m. update, Jan. 18
The evacuation map has been updated to reflect evacuations that have been lifted. Residents will be able to return via 1441. Roadblocks are still in place along Hwy 21.
Texas A&M Forest Service said in a statement the following evacuation areas are still in effect:
- Power Plant Road
- Pine Tree Loop
- Lisa Lane
- Linda Lane
- Porter Road
- KC Drive
- Hill Crest Drive
- Pinedale Drive
- Pinehollow Drive
- Wildwood Drive
- Boren Lane
- Pinehill Drive
Residents living along East and West Kelley Road, as well as those north of FM 1441, are now able to return home, officials said. At this point, no injuries from residents or first responders have been reported, and there haven’t been any confirmed residential structures lost to the fire.
“Drive carefully and beware of smoke in the area. Entrance to these areas will be via FM 1441 as Hwy 21 will continue to have roadblocks in place,” officials added.
In an update, Bastrop County ESD No. 2 officials said Pine Tree Loop is currently being patrolled with an apparatus to help detect any “spot outs” or fire encroaching around the homes.
As of 2:55 p.m., Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management said residents in the Pine Hill Drive neighborhood are being asked to evacuate. As of 3:20 p.m., residents along Pine Tree Loop, Linda Lane and Lisa Lane were also being asked to evacuate. As of 5:30 p.m., residents along Bluebonnet Drive, Sage Road, Buckhorn Drive and other associated streets are being evacuated.
Evacuated residents can go to the Elgin Rec Center located at 361 State Highway 95 in Elgin. Any residents with livestock can take them to the Bastrop Area Livestock Show Barn and Bastrop Rodeo Area. Call 512-653-8903 or 512-657-7056 ahead of taking your animals, officials say.
Officials told KXAN that two subdivisions on the north side of SH 21 are threatened along with another to the south, with about 100 homes threatened by smoke and ember drift.
More than 200 firefighters from across the state are on the scene, from local and state resources, officials said.
There are some residents who weren’t evacuated but were trying to get to their property to check on their homes. One woman told KXAN she’s concerned for her animals.
“I have eight chickens and a cat at home right now, so, chickens are outside, but they’re in their coop, and cat’s in the house,” she said.
As of 4:05 p.m., crews reported the fire has moved along Power Plant Road toward South Shore Lake Bastrop. Bluebonnet officials also reported its network is currently unavailable due to the fire, with outages reported throughout the area.
Bluebonnet de-energized power lines serving nearly 350 members in an area along TX 21 “to ensure the area is safe for emergency crews and residents.”
Road closures are in place at State Highway 21 South Shore Lake Bastrop and East State Highway 21. As of Tuesday evening, the Texas Department of Transportation also closed areas of SH 21 from South Shore Road to FM 1441 and SH 95 to FM 1441.
Aviation resources have been ordered to assist, the Forest Service said.
Travis County confirmed that STAR Flight was assisting with fire suppression.
Controlled burn in the area
Texas Parks and Wildlife said it was doing a prescribed burn in the area at Bastrop State Park earlier Tuesday, along Park Road 1C. Officials said 150 acres in the area were set to be burned, but the controlled fire got out of its boundaries and has since burned more than 600 acres.
TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith said that the department felt they were within weather conditions for a prescribed burn.
“Fire is a tool to help prevent wildfires. Prescribed burns are a very important action to protect the beautiful forests we have in Bastrop County and protect the homes and the families that live here,” Pape said during a press conference Tuesday evening.
While officials said there is no known cause to the fire yet, it is believed to have started when embers from the prescribed burn moved outside of its boundaries.
TPWD said there have been two prescribed burns in this area since 2011.
This fire sparked in the same area as a deadly fire in 2011 that became the most destructive in Texas history. It burned for 55 days, destroyed 1,600 homes and burned 32,000 acres. That fire started in September, sparked by tree limbs that snapped and hit power lines, and was made worse by strong winds.
Gov. Greg Abbott issues statement
Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement regarding the Rolling Pines Fire, stating that several resources have been deployed to assist local officials.
“We will continue to monitor the situation in Bastrop County and are ready to deploy additional state resources as needed to contain this wildfire and keep Texans safe,” said Abbott in a statement.
Abbott said that Texas A&M Forest Service has deployed three Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System strike teams, which include 75 firefighters. The Forest Service assets include more than 15 personnel, four dozers, one engine, aircraft, and two large air tankers.
Emergency Medical Task Force (EMTF) Wildland Support Package also responded and the Texas Division of Emergency Management is responding with personnel support on scene. The Texas Military Department has deployed a UH60 helicopter with a fire suppression water bucket and has additional aircraft on standby, Abbott said.
There were no reported injuries as of 6 p.m. Tuesday.