Update on fires in Texas, Sept 7

Texas National Guard Blackhawk fire
A Texas National Guard Blackhawk helicopter flies through smoke near Bastrop, Texas, September 6, 2011. Photo by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon

This morning the Texas Forest Service provided the following information about the current wildfire situation:

An assessment has been completed on the Bastrop County Complex and 785 homes have been reported destroyed. An additional 238 have been reported lost on other fires in the past three days, for a total of approximately 1,023.

A significant number of aircraft have been mobilized to assist with the heavy fire activity. Six heavy airtankers, three 1500-gallon scoopers, 15 single-engine airtankers, twelve helicopters, and twelve aerial supervision aircraft are in place. Eight National Guard Blackhawk and three Chinook helicopters have been providing critical aerial support. In addition, a 12,000-gallon DC-10 airtanker will be activated Friday morning at the Austin-Bergstrom Airport. This aircraft was instrumental in helping to contain Wildcat Fire in Coke County last April.

A Type I Incident Management Team is in place in Bastrop this morning and is assisting Texas Forest Service in managing the Bastrop County Complex. Additional Type 1 teams have been requested to assist with the large fires in Northeast and Southeast Texas.

Farther down in the TFS report it says about the Bastrop fire: “An assessment team has confirmed 885 homes have been destroyed”.

Earlier today we posted three updated maps of the Bastrop fire.

Looking down from a Ch-47 as it drops water on a fire
The view through the bottom of a Texas National Guard Ch-47 helicopter as it dropped water on a fire near Bastrop, Texas, September 6, 2011. Photo by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon

The weather over the last two days has changed in favor of the firefighters. The 30+ mph winds produced by tropical storm Lee have been replaced by 3 to 13 mph breezes, but the relative humidity remains low, and is expected to bottom out at 14% at the Bastrop fire today.

CNN reported on Tuesday that a woman and her 18-month old child died on Sunday when their home was engulfed in flames near Gladewater. CNN also said two more people were reported on Tuesday to have died in a fire near Austin. Little information was given out by incident management personnel, except that the two latest victims were not public safety personnel. MYSA reports that these last two victims died in the Bastrop fire. It appears that the known death total is four, but that number could rise after the 1,000+ burned homes are searched.

In today’s TFS report only two new fires larger than 100 acres are listed, which is a significant reduction from previous reports. Here are the 11 largest fires listed in their report, which includes a total of 31 uncontained fires larger than 100 acres:

  • BASTROP COUNTY COMPLEX, Bastrop County. 33,038 acres. The State Operations Center is reporting 30 percent containment. Heavy airtankers, scoopers, helicopters, and SEATs assisted on this fire that started in the Lost Pines area just northeast of Bastrop. Most of the forward progress of the fire has stopped, but significant intense burning continues in the interior. Twenty subdivisions remain evacuated. An assessment team has confirmed 785 homes have been destroyed. Two civilians were found dead yesterday as search crews went through the charred subdivisions.
  • BEAR CREEK (#536), Cass County. 14,000 acres, unknown containment. The fire is burning in heavy timber and is threatening a gas facility and chicken houses. Six homes have been destroyed. A FEMA Management Assistance Grant was received.
  • 101 RANCH, Palo Pinto County. 6,555 acres, 85 percent contained. The fire is burning on the south side of Possum Kingdom Lake near the town of Brad. Thirty-nine homes and nine RVs have been reported destroyed.
  • PEDERNALES BEND (Spicewood), Travis County. 6,500 acres, 80 percent contained. The fire is burning four miles southeast of Spicewood. Sixty-seven homes were destroyed.
  • DELHI, Caldwell County. 6,000 acres, 60 percent contained. Twenty homes were saved and six were lost on this fire east of Lockhart.
  • RILEY ROAD, Grimes/Montgomery/Waller counties. 5,000 acres, 30 percent contained. Seventy-five homes have been destroyed on this fire burning just west of Magnolia.
  • HENDERSON #495, Anderson County. 5,000 acres, unknown containment. Three homes were saved.
  • #839, Leon County (Concord Robbins). 4,000 acres, unknown containment. An estimated twenty homes are reported lost and more than 300 were evacuated.
  • #502, Nacogdoches County. 4,000 acres, unknown containment. More than a dozen homes have been evacuated, but none lost.
  • ARBOR, Houston County. 3,000 acres, 90 percent contained. The fire is burning in timber. Up to 15 homes are reported lost.
  • #491, Limestone County. 3,000 acres, 90 percent contained. Six homes were saved and one was lost on this fire 20 miles east of Waco.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

5 thoughts on “Update on fires in Texas, Sept 7”

  1. In regards to Gov. Perry: Last spring when Texas started having major wildfire problems, he cut the budget of TFS to help balance his state’s budget. Then he asked all to “pray for rain”. I don’t mind people honoring their faith but common sense needs to prevail.

  2. Looks like good work by the Texas Guard (?) CH-47 Chinook. There was at least two previous drops (2000 gallons each) which are shown by the darker (wet) earth patterns. Someone gets to come home to their “castle” tonight.

  3. Please make maps more clear in reguards to streets.
    also would like to know if there is a chance of any fire turning towards the LBA area ? As I understand that the fire was east of us and somewhat near the 290 , I live in this area…if the area is open to return home should we stay ready to get out again ? Please reply !!!!!
    This really scars me !

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