Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect new information from Hays County.
BUDA, Texas (KXAN) — As of around 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Buda Fire Department said the grass fire near the Coves of Cimmeron neighborhood was 75% contained. At one point, it had burned to 70 acres.
“You don’t see your own neighborhood like, nearly on fire too often. It’s a pretty scary thing,” said Joyce Meyer, who lives near the Buda fire.
“I think everybody’s kind of worried about their house, and of course I’m worried about our house,” said another neighbor, Zach Teegardin.
Hays County officials said earlier information they received Wednesday was incorrect, and no one was asked to evacuate areas of Buda due to the grass fire.
Buda fire chief Clay Huckaby said an evacuation center explained there may have been a miscommunication among local officials.
“I think there was preliminary reports to possibly spool up an evacuation center just in case it was needed. And in the process of considering the evacuation center that it got put out that it was a full evacuation,” he said.
The grass fire broke out Wednesday near the Coves of Cimmeron neighborhood in Buda, officials said. There was a shelter ready for evacuees if it got to that point, officials said. Officials also said no reverse 911 calls were made about the fires.
Travis County ESD No. 5 reported the fire was burning in a heavily-wooded area.
The ESD said the fire did not threaten homes, although it was close. Its crews were called out to Dove and Ranger Drives to help with the fire just before 1 p.m. Hays County said the fire is “east of Dove Drive in Buda’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) on the Persimmons Tract of Property.”
Huckaby said fire crews from almost all of Hays County came to help, as did the Texas A&M Forest Service.
Meyer was grateful for fire officials who answered neighbors’ questions and kept them calm.
“The billowing smoke was very ominous, so it’s very nice to have the voice of reason and the reassurance of people that actually know what’s happening,” Meyer said.
During the media briefing in Buda, Texas A&M Forest Service spokesperson Walter Flocke said about 99% of the Lone Star State is under a drought.
“That prolonged drought as well as the excessive heat has made our vegetation critically dry,” he explained. “So, even on a day like today, where we don’t have very strong winds or super low humidity, that fuel component is enough to create a large wildfire event like this one.”
He said they’re called in to help when the fire exceeds the capacity of local departments, either due to size or terrain or fuel types. Just Tuesday, they were called to help with 15.
With a dry forecast, they expect more flames through October.
“As long as we’re not getting that rain, then the fuels are still dry enough to support wildfires,” Flocke said.
That’s why the agency is positioning its crews in Bastrop County, Marble Falls, Fredericksburg and other parts of Central Texas.
“We’ve been moving resources all around Central Texas to have them ready to go and be quick to respond to wildfires in the area,” Flocke said.
He also said nine out of 10 wildfires in Texas are caused by humans and are preventable. That includes both of Wednesday’s fires in the Austin area.
Huckaby said the Buda fire started when a cattle trailer backed into a guide wire to a telephone pole.
“Telephone pole shook some lines, touched through some sparks and actually lit the ground on fire and resulted in the fire here we’re at today,” he explained during the briefing.
Travis County fire officials said the wildfire there began when someone was grinding metal, which sparked the brush. Fire officials want folks to be careful when using equipment in this dry heat.