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Wildfire burns in state park

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    Firefighters fought a wildfire in Bastrop State Park on Monday, August 10. Photos courtesy of Bastrop County Emergency Services District 2
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Local and state fire crews battled a wildfire that broke out in Bastrop State Park last Monday afternoon.

Shortly after 4 p.m., the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) reported a wildfire in the northeast section of the Bastrop State Park, with the Texas A&M Forest Service and local firefighters, including Bastrop County Emergency Services District (ESD) 2, Bastrop Fire Department and Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department, on scene. The fire was estimated between 10 and 15 acres at 4:45 p.m., and no structures were threatened. The fire became more and more contained throughout the evening, with 75% containment around 9:30 p.m. and an estimated 27 acres burned.

The next morning, crews from Texas Parks & Wildlife and Texas A&M Forest Service returned to the fire to improve the containment lines. The fire was completely contained by 4 p.m.

Another fire broke out on Friday shortly after noon between Bastrop and Smithville in the area of Park Road 1C and Cottletown Road. Responding agencies included Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department, Smithville Volunteer Fire Department, Bastrop Fire Department, Bastrop County ESD 2, the OEM, Starflight, the Texas A&M Forest Service with dozers and air support, Bastrop Police Department, Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Acadian ambulances and Bluebonnet Electric.

All residences in the area were asked to evacuate, and the Smithville Rec Center was opened as a cooling center for those displaced by the fire. The forward progression was stopped and the fire was 25% contained by 2:30 p.m., and initial containment lines were completed. The evacuation was lifted, allowing residents to return home, and the fire was at 25 acres and 50% contained by about 3:30 p.m.

The fire was 75% contained by about 4:30 p.m., and a bulldozer from Texas A&M Forest Service was on scene working on improving the containment lines. No structures had been lost. At 8 p.m., the fire was 80% contained and Heart of the Pines VFD monitored the fire overnight, while the Texas A&M Forest Service would return in the morning to mop up. The fire was completely contained by the next day at 3 p.m.

The OEM also reported three other fires: two more on Friday and one on Sunday.

On Friday, there was a grass fire in the 2700 block of U.S. Highway 290 east of Elgin around 1 p.m. At 2 p.m., the fire was contained and in mop-up, and all fire resources were clear of the scene at 3 p.m.

Then, that evening, there was another fire near Elgin, a brush fire at Nature’s Way in the area of Old McDade Road and Roy Davis Road at 8 p.m. Soon after, forward progression of the fire was stopped, and the fire was completely contained and in mop-up by 8:35. The fire was out and all units cleared the scene by 10:23.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, the OEM reported multiple grass fires on State Highway 71 in the Cedar Creek area, from Still Forest Drive to Hyatt Lost Pines Drive, with firefighters on scene from Bastrop County ESD 1 and Travis County ESD 11. The fire was contained and in mop-up by 2:05 p.m., and the roadway was reopened by 2:50 p.m. All units cleared the scene after 4 p.m.

On Friday morning, Bastrop County had a Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), which is a numerical scale of drought conditions, of 645, according to the OEM. A KBDI of 600 is the threshold for a burn ban in Bastrop County. The OEM said the county has seen a number of violations of the burn ban last week, which was put in place at the end of July. The Bastrop County ESD 1 reported 17 burn ban calls between Sunday, August 9 and Wednesday, August 12.