Wildfire south of Horseshoe Bay burns 775 acres, 45 percent contained

Hill Country
Large brush fire south of Horseshoe Bay on July 17, 2018

Smith West Wildfire Highlights

Fire started around 7 p.m. Tuesday

775 acres burned

45 percent contained as of 8:30 p.m. Wednesday

No structures threatened at this time

LLANO COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A brush fire south of State Highway 71 and Horseshoe Bay is at least 775 acres large and was expected to reach the highway, the Llano County Sheriff’s office says.

Drivers should avoid the area. The fire is moving over open ranch land near SH 71 and Ranch Road 962, and crews have closed RR 962 as of 10:26 a.m. Wednesday. They are at 45 percent containment as of 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

“The northern end of this fire is mopped up approximately 100 yards inside the black or burned area,” wrote the Horseshoe Bay Fire Department on Facebook. “The Blanco County side is not tightened up as well with many trees still burning close to the fire line. Crews will be rotating in and out around daybreak so please keep a watchful eye on the roadway if you MUST travel through the general area.”

  • 7 dozer crews
  • 2 helicopters
  • 1 Air Attack unit
  • More than 100 people from more than 20 departments

With rough terrain and temperatures reaching 103-107 degrees Wednesday, firefighters will have to try to stay hydrated and cool when they can. KXAN’s First Warning Weather Team says low winds out of the south-southwest, 5-10 mph, should limit rapid spread of the fire. However, humidity levels will decrease throughout the day as drier air moves in.

“My biggest concern right now is for our firefighters’ safety,” says Kari Hines with the Texas Forest Service. “It’s very hot out here, they’re going to be working very hard. Supporting our local VFD’s is always one of my top concerns. They are highly underfunded, so making sure that they have what they need.”

The Texas A&M Forest Service was called to the fire at 7 p.m. Tuesday and the fire has been dubbed the Smith West Fire. There are no known threats to structures or evacuation orders. 

The Llano County Office of Emergency Management said the fire began in Blanco County and is moving north toward Llano County. It jumped RR 962, which is closed for fire operations.

A STAR Flight helicopter was making water drops on the fire but the Forest Service is also contracting water drops from another company. More than 20 different fire departments are working the fire. 

Drone footage

“It’s been kinda scary,” said Garry Kesler, who owns property near the fire. He plowed south of his property to hopefully act as a fire break.

“We have packed some things, some valuables in, both sets of properties have,” Kesler said. “We’ve moved our cows to the far north side of the property just in case.” He said he hadn’t heard of anyone evacuating because of the fire.

Hines says residents shouldn’t panic, but they should be prepared and listen to authorities.

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