Some Texas wildfire victims return home

AUSTIN, Texas — Firefighters in Central Texas are halfway to controlling a wildfire that’s destroyed dozens of homes, and authorities said Saturday that enough progress has been made to allow some residents to return to their neighborhoods.

The Hidden Pines Fire has consumed about 4,600 acres and razed nearly 50 homes and seven businesses, most of them just north of Buescher State Park.

Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said Saturday evening that about 50 percent of the fire is contained, and that the fire had not spread during the entire day.

“It has been a good day in the battle,” he said.

About 200 firefighters from across Texas have battled the blaze during daylight, and Pollock said a DC-10 jet tanker flown in from Tennessee that dropped nearly 12,000 gallons of retardant on the smoldering area Friday was effective in closing gaps in the fire line.

Pape said some people would be allowed to return to their homes Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Power was already being restored in some areas.

No injuries have been reported since the fire began Tuesday. A preliminary investigation has determined a farmer mistakenly started the fire as he dragged a shredder through tall grass, causing an overheated bearing to ignite grass clippings.

The wildfire has scorched more than 7 miles of forestland in an area about 40 miles southeast of Austin. But Bastrop County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Fisher said firefighters “have got the upper hand on this thing.”

Kari Hines, spokeswoman for the Forest Service, said that the fire had not made any large gains in acreage over the last 24 hours.

She said a primary concern for firefighters is embers blown into areas where there are large patches of unburned vegetation, creating more flames to fight.

The fire is chewing much of the same area that was devastated in 2011 by a far more massive wildfire that wiped out 1,600 homes and killed two people. But this time, winds have paled to the 50 mph gusts that overwhelmed firefighters four years ago.

About 400 homes have been evacuated since the Hidden Pines Fire began. About 200 residents have checked into local shelters, though authorities said few have stayed overnight as most slept in motels or the homes of friends.

Talk to us

More in Local News

“We are still trying to figure out what to do with him,” said Everett Police Department property crimes Det. Adam Gage, who transports the statue back to a room using a rolling chair on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 in Everett, Washington.The Batman statue was recovered after it was stolen from an Everett comic book store last year.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Batman returns! Stolen Funko statue is in police custody

The supersized bobblehead was taken from Everett Comics in an October “smash-and-grab.”

Looking east toward the U.S. 2 trestle as cars begin to backup on Thursday, March 1, 2018 in Everett, Wa. The aging westbound span needs replacing and local politicians are looking to federal dollars to get the replacement started. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
U.S. 2 trestle rebuild part of Senate transportation package

Time is short to get the $17.8 billion plan passed. Its link to climate change bills adds intrigue.

Eric Adler, the mystery man who is on Twitter as @EdmondsScanner (E. Wong)
Revealed: The mystery man behind the @EdmondsScanner tweets

He’s a 50-year-old mail carrier who dusted off his English degree to curate 6,000 tales on Twitter.

Man identified in fatal Mill Creek crash

Ian Jensen, 32, died after a multi-vehicle accident Saturday on 35th Avenue SE.

Package funding U.S. 2 trestle, Monroe bypass on the move

A $17.8 billion plan dealing with highways, ferries and transit has cleared the state Senate transportation panel.

Explosion shatters Everett apartment complex windows

Police were called to the Monte Cristo apartment complex, 2929 Hoyt Ave., Tuesday night.

Simeon Berkley declines to make a statement during his sentencing hearing Friday afternoon at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett on March 16, 2021. Berkley was sentenced to 22-years in prison for the second-degree murder of Steven Whitmarsh in 2019.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett road-rage shooter gets 22 years for ‘execution’

Simeon Berkley, 75, was convicted of second-degree murder for the death of Steven Whitemarsh.

Exterior of the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Tulalip Tribes reach deal with state on sports betting

If all goes to plan, the tribes could get federal approval for sports books at two casinos by the fall.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Things are heating up in Olympia — and not just the weather

Here’s what’s happening on Day 94 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

Most Read