Updated: City officials tell KUT News all related grass fires have now been contained, though fire officials continue to monitor hotspots. Six area fire agencies responded to the fire earlier today to assist Cedar Park.
From the City of Cedar Park:
Cedar Park dispatchers received a 911 call about a brush fire near Woods Lane and Highway 183 at 11:35 a.m. on Sunday. Firefighters were dispatched at 11:37 a.m. and arrived on scene at 11:41 a.m. to find a field heavily involved in flames and the fire heading towards homes along Bois d’Arc Lane. “Neighbors were helpful,” says Cedar Park Fire Chief Chris Connealy. “Unfortunately we lost two homes but it could have been much worse.” Two other homes were damaged as firefighters went door-to-door to make sure residents were safe and evacuate homes that were at risk. Cedar Park is under a Red Flag Warning from the National Weather Service at least through Monday, and wind gusts of up to 30 miles an hour contributed to the spread of the fire and made it difficult to extinguish. “This is a classic fear of ours,” says Chief Connealy. “With high winds and the ground being so dry from drought conditions, we want encourage residents to be mindful today and tomorrow when barbequing and having fun this Labor Day weekend.” Fire investigators have not yet determined the cause of this fire. Firefighters from at least six area departments, including Jollyville, Hutto, Leander, Florence, Sam Bass and North Lake Travis, provided mutual aid and had the fire contained within about an hour. Williamson County EMS was also on scene but there were no reported injuries of firefighters or residents. Several streets in the area remained closed throughout the afternoon to allow emergency vehicle access while firefighters monitored hotspots and hosed down smoldering areas. Volunteers from the Cedar Park and Leander HEB stores brought food and water for victims and firefighters, while Cedar Park Police Department’s Victim Services and the American Red Cross of Central Texas provided assistance to those who lost their homes in the fire. “This is exactly what kind of response we’re hoping for: that the community and different groups can come together and provide help during a crisis situation,” says Victim Services Coordinator Mirna Fuentes. Chief Connealy says he needs the public’s help to make sure Cedar Park stays safe. “During these conditions of several Red Flag Warning days combined with the drought, just a cigarette or a tiny spark can set acres on fire.”
City Media and Communications Manager Jennie Huerta tells KUT News this afternoon, the cause of the fire is not yet know, though the extremely windy conditions have contributed to its spreading. She says the original fire has been contained, though the wind has been responsible for sparking several related grass fires in the immediate area.
The area affected in Cedar Park is near 183 around New Hope Road and Osage Drive. The City is asking people to avoid that area to allow easy access for firefighters.
Click here for YNN's coverage of the fire.
A Red Flag Warning and Wind Advisory remain in effect for much of Central Texas this afternoon.