Bastrop fire in Texas burns 600 homes

Map of Bastrop fire in Texas 9-6-2011
Map of Bastrop fire in Texas, showing heat detected by satellites early in the morning on September 6, 2011. The location is approximate. The most recent heat is shown in red. MODIS

(UPDATE September 7, 2011: maps updated on September 7, 2011, can be found HERE.)

The fire between Bastrop and Paige in Texas has burned approximately 600 homes and 30,000 acres, according to the Texas Forest Service. The fire has set a record for the highest number of homes lost in a single fire in Texas history.

The west flank of the fire is threatening Bastrop and is within two miles of the city limits. The strong winds blowing out of tropical storm Lee have abated somewhat, but the predicted 11 mph north-northeast winds and a relative humidity of 14% today will continue to challenge firefighters charged with protecting the town of Bastrop.

Bastrop fire screen capture from video
Bastrop fire as seen from Route 71 near Route 20. Screen capture from video. Credit: hippychickenfarmer

The image above is from a video on YouTube.

The Boise National Incident Management Organization team, Incident Commander Steve Gage, has assisted with the management of the fire. A type 1 team has been ordered. Numerous subdivisions, approximately 5,000 residents, have been evacuated.

Author and photographer Deanna Roy took a very impressive photo of the Bastrop fire with the city of Austin in the foreground.

Yesterday we posted a map showing the locations of the 38 large fires burning in Texas. We will post another article later updating that information about the fires across the state. The Texas Forest Service has a list of the large fires currently uncontrolled.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

27 thoughts on “Bastrop fire in Texas burns 600 homes”

  1. Hi, This is so valuable what you are posting. My Aunt is on the NE side of Smithville off of 153. Air quality is affected. I’m concerned as they not evacuated them yet, and I thought with your knowledge, you may be able to give me an idea what you think about whether she should leave now. It seems to me she’s in between 2 active fires, but it’s hard to find accurate maps showing exactly the extent of the fires or where they are traveling towards. Any feedback would be much appreciated. I suspect you may be getting a lot of contacts like this so understand if I don’t hear anything.

    1. Jenny-

      From hundreds of miles away I am not in a position to give anyone advise about evacuation. The latest satellite data shows that the Bastrop fire is approximately 3-4 miles north and northwest of Smithville, but that data may not reflect the current conditions. If the weather forecast for Bastrop is correct, the fire may spread further to the south and southwest, so at best the residents of Smithville will probably be exposed to smoke from the Bastrop and other fires that are 90 to 285 miles to the northeast of the town. At the worst, well I won’t try to speculate about that, but I would advise your aunt to maintain contact with the local law enforcement authorities. If evacuations are ordered, it will most likely the the police or sheriff contacting the residents. She should be prepared to leave home with very little notice.

  2. I live in Bastrop and none of the local news stations are focusing on the severity of the Bastrop fires. Unfortunately, the focus is on smaller fires in wealthy Austin neighborhoods. This map is the best info. I’ve received as to the visual on heat imagery in the area. I wish we were getting this kind of info. This Bastrop fire started on Friday. Thanks again.

    1. Katherine:
      I couldn’t agree more. This map is the most accurate info I have found so far. The local media seems to only care about the small number of mansions that burned in north Austin. My father in law’s home is between Bastrop and Smithville and we have no clue as to whether all their pets and belongings are OK or not. Further, resources that could be used to help in Bastrop are being stymied by bureaucratic B.S. and red tape while peoples’ lives are being ruined.

  3. Bill,

    How did you generate the thermal map. When I use the MODIS option for one day I get a HUGE map and can’t tighten up. Also, can you define the remaining circles (black and yellow).

    Thanks,
    Karl

    1. Karl-

      The red is “active burning”, the yellow is “last 12 hours”, and the black is “last 24 hours”.

      1. I have searched for hours for just such a map. Why this map wasn’t held up at the press conference and published on officialdoms web site, I will never figure out. Thanks for the very valuable info provided here for those with loved ones or property in the path of this fire. Since Gov. Perry previously cut firefighter funding by 75 percent in tx., this fire may be around for a while. We would sure appreciate updates of that hotspot map. thanks, wm

  4. Dear Bill, I’m so glad to have found your site. There are NO good maps online and this is really so important. I’m in NYC with heart in mouth after sister-in-law evacuated in Bastrop adjacent to demolished colavista and Tahitian subdivisions. It looks like from the heat map her home just to the east of there may be gone, but I can’t blow it up big enough to read the street names. Any chance there is a source on this where a clearer image could be gotten? Or is this simply not precise enough to be able to tell and we can only wait? Thanks so much Hannah

    1. This system of detecting heat with satellites from hundreds of miles above the earth is not precise enough to zero in on the street level. The sensors only take sample readings at predetermined intervals, then the software displays a circle around the area that was sampled. The site for viewing the maps is: http://www.geomac.gov/viewer/viewer.shtml

      1. Dear Bill, Thanks for that original map site. Actually difficult to use– clearly you know the fire business very well and thanks again for posting relevant maps on your site. All best, Hannah

  5. I would like to see a map where you can read road sighns and street names I have family in Bastrop and would like to know that they are ok. Think you very much Arnold A. E. Roitsch II Rising Star TX

  6. Hi. I live in Bastrop and we’ve been evacuated, seeing as we live in the Lodge at Lost Pines apartment complex. We have heard absolutely NOTHING yet about if our apartment is okay or not; I was wondering if there is a map anywhere about what has and hasn’t been destroyed yet? Please let me know. Thanks.

  7. can you give any information as to the status of Bastrop and Buescher state parks. just wondering about park involvement and structure damage, especially old CCC structures.

  8. my heart goes out to y’all…. my family endured the Wallow fire here in AZ, our area lost only 30 some homes and businesses in a 538,000acre wildfire. we were EXCEPTIONALLY fortunate to NOT have lost our home.. please know….we are sending our prayers to those of you impacted by these tragedies……May god be with you….

  9. You are doing something very important here- filling a much needed gap. Thank you for that. My very best to those readers who don’t yet know the fate of their homes. The not knowing must be the hardest part.

    1. Thanks, Robin. We wish for the best for all those property owners who are waiting to hear the fate of their homes.

  10. My parents live between Bastrop and Smithville off Cottletown road and they have lost the home. They were able to get out their pets and a 20 foot RV that used to sit next to their mobil home. They otherwise lost almost everything they owned except things they threw in the RV before the short time they had to evacuate on Sunday afternoon and a few things they got when my sister, nephew and mom were able to go back in and grab before they had to leave because the smoke got so thick. They are 80 and 85 years of age and thank god are healthy. They did have some insurance on contents only but were not able to cover structure because of some land legal thing. I know that the governor has requested Federal Disaster Relief but I am unsure how all that works and they went to Austin to my sisters to escape they are not getting first hand information like they were at the center in Smithville. If anyone has any information on relief from the government and or FEMA could they post it for me to pass on or anyone else that is in need of it. My parents have lived in Lost Pines for over 25 years and I am hoping can continue to live their lives out in an area they both have come to love.

      1. Thank you for the information, as for the address on Lonesome Dove I have really have no information except some properties on my parents O Grady Road. When I talk to my parents again I will ask them about that road and see if they know of it or any lost houses on it. I can also can give you a site called wundermap.com that is a satellite image of the area that you can zoom in on and you can compare with the map on this site to see the area clearer than this map. I just look up that address and it is about a mile or more north of my parents property and in an, according to this map is in a hot spot, however that means nothing because my brothers house that is less than a quarter of a mile away from my parents, down wind, and is twice the size was untouched. Also, I have not seen it but this morning they said on a Austin station that they were going to post known destroyed addresses in the entire area. Keep watching for that maybe on the news websites from Austin, because that will give you a real conformation if that address was destroyed. Good luck to you

        1. Do you have any information on O’Grady Road? Our friend lives at #234 but is out of the country and I am trying to find out anything that I can for him. I’ve seen video from Cottletown glancing down O’Grady, but wonder how far down the road the damage goes – was the whole road lost?

  11. Hey everyone…
    Just found this detailed map of the fire peremiters… maybe it can give closer detail to some of you who need more specific locations. If you zoom in close enough it begins to show street names.

    http://www.esri.com/services/disaster-response/wildlandfire/latest-news-map.html

    Hoping for the best to all of you in Bastrop. We live just outside the Austin/Bastrop border and have been frustrated as well with the lack of information.

    Good luck!
    Tara

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