HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Hays County Office of Emergency Management and several Central Texas agencies continue to respond to the Oak Grove Fire, a 400-acre blaze that’s 50% contained as of Sunday evening.
The fire began Saturday afternoon and was first reported near Oak Grove Road near San Marcos.
On Sunday, officials with the Texas A&M Forest Service said there was no fire growth overnight or current evacuations in place. Neighbors and businesses KXAN spoke with described the moments they saw the plumes of smoke, with others recounting seeing the flames skim parts of their property.
Resident Debbie Jackson’s sister is located near the Oak Grove Fire. She said her sister had water hoses and was trying to put out the fire as it neared their property.
“She was very scared,” Jackson said. “It came up at the back of their property, and it came from the back and skimmed the bottom part of their property.”
In addition to updates from officials on the fire’s containment, Jackson said she wants there to be a serious conversation and proactive work on the limited access and exit points to this part of Hays County.
“What are we all going to do about the in and out of getting out of here when there is a fire?” she said. “We have one way in and out. There is an alternative way, but it’s closed to us, and we really want that to be available for people who need to get home or get back to town because of the fire.”
Dan Searle is another resident who lives near the Oak Grove Fire. He shared the moment he woke up from a nap and realized a wildfire was nearing.
“I was taking a nap, and I heard airplanes and helicopters flying around,” he said. “I look up, and I see this big plume of smoke, and it’s just blowing straight up.”
He said he and his family packed their things last night in the event of an evacuation.
“It’s just stuff. We need to save ourselves,” he said.
Tosca Cesaretti and Michelle Bussemey own Springtime Roasters in San Marcos. Cesaretti said she felt a sense of numbness when leaving their property Saturday, not knowing what might happen to it.
“When we left yesterday, fleeing for our lives, I was so numb, feeling like I had lost everything,” she said, adding: “When we were leaving, we felt the heat. The embers falling. While we were escaping, that was happening. It’s that sinking feeling of ‘it’s all gone.’ The house is fine, but the land is destroyed.”
Bussemey said one of their neighbors snuck to the property and FaceTimed the two, revealing the home was still standing.
“We couldn’t believe it,” Bussemey said. “I think it sent us more into shock than the whole fire–that it was still standing.”
On Sunday, the City of Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell said roughly 30 homes were evacuated. He said one home was destroyed, and several others were threatened.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, with a Texas A&M Forest Service spokesperson saying arson investigators and law enforcement will enforce any fines if a person is found to be negligent.
“Folks just need to be careful in any case, no matter what they’re doing,” Texas A&M Forest Service spokesperson Walter Flocke said.
Responding agencies include the Texas Interstate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) strike team, Hays County Wildland Task Force, the Travis County Task Force and the Emergency Medical Task Force.