Several fires spark in Williamson County, local state of disaster declared

Williamson County

FLORENCE, Texas (KXAN) — Firefighters are busy in Williamson County after at least four fires popped up Friday afternoon into the evening. The county judge declared a local state of disaster banning outdoor burning in response.

One fire sparked in Florence near Farm to Market Road 970 and was first reported to be 3-4 acres large but grew to 171 acres by Friday night. No homes were threatened, the county said. One firefighter suffered from minor smoke inhalation.

  • Florence, Texas fire on Jan. 14, 2022
  • Florence, Texas fire on Jan. 14, 2022
  • Florence, Texas fire on Jan. 14, 2022
  • Florence, Texas fire on Jan. 14, 2022

“Saw smoke from the east of the gun range. It was dark, and it was moving fast,” said Tony LaCoste, who owns Lonestar Range and Academy nearby. “With the winds we had today and out here in that field after not having substantial rainfall, everything is pretty dry and pretty dead around here.”

The Texas A&M Forest Service helped Williamson County fight the fire, which is formally known as the Chapman Fire, according to the service. As of 7:12 p.m., the fire was stopped from progressing. Texas A&M Forest Service said it was 95% contained by 9:39 p.m.

Another brush fire sparked around 1:37 p.m. outside of Hutto near County Road 198 and Apache Pass. Multiple fire departments worked to contain this fire. No one was hurt, and no homes have reported damage, according to the county.

Photo of fire outside of Hutto near County Road 198 and Apache Pass on Jan. 14, 2022. (Photo: Pflugerville Fire Department)
Photo of fire outside of Hutto near County Road 198 and Apache Pass on Jan. 14, 2022. (Photo: Pflugerville Fire Department)

A third fire was spotted by KXAN crews near County Roads 140 and 150 in Georgetown. We are still working to get information about it.

  • Fire spotted in Georgetown near County Roads 140 and 150 on Jan. 14, 2022. (KXAN Photo/Tim Holcomb)
  • Fire spotted in Georgetown near County Roads 140 and 150 on Jan. 14, 2022. (KXAN Photo/Tim Holcomb)
  • Fire spotted in Georgetown near County Roads 140 and 150 on Jan. 14, 2022. (KXAN Photo/Tim Holcomb)

This all comes the same afternoon as a fourth fire at a recycling plant outside Taylor. At least two firefighters were hurt while battling the flames, according to the Taylor Fire Department.

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office is helping with traffic control and told drivers to expect delays.

Burn ban in effect for Williamson County

In response to the fires, Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell declared a local state of disaster Friday. The order prohibits outdoor burning in all unincorporated areas of the county.

Smoking in and/or on Williamson County parks, preserves and trails is also banned due to dry vegetation, wind and an “imminent threat of severe damage.”

Under the order, you CANNOT:

  • Burn any combustible material outside of an enclosure made to contain all flames and/or sparks
  • Burn household yard waste, such as leaves, grass,  brush and other yard trimmings
  • Burn to clear land of trees, stumps, shrubbery or other natural vegetation

It’s considered a criminal offense if anyone disobeys the order. Violators could be fined up to $1,000 or even be jailed.

The order is in effect for at least seven days and can be lifted by Gravell if conditions improve.

Friday’s weather is unseasonably warm with temperatures creeping toward 80 degrees, and winds are expected to pick up later in the day when a front blows through.

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