wildfires
8:37 am
Wed October 5, 2011

Another Bastrop Fire Burns 1,000 Acres

Firefighters made progress overnight on a new wildfire in Bastrop County. The fire started Tuesday afternoon, and quickly spread to about a thousand acres.

As of Wednesday morning, officials said the fire was 25 percent contained but expected that number to go up. No homes were destroyed, and no one was injured, though 50 homes were evacuated.

Celebration Community Church was opened as a shelter. The Bastrop Independent School District will provide bus service from the shelter to schools at seven Wednesday morning.

While the fire spread fast, firefighters were able to get a handle on it more quickly than the last time flames tore through Bastrop.

“Right now, there wasn’t a lot of fire activity in the state, like there was a month ago. So the air assets were readily available. And they came right out of Austin, so it was a short turnaround time for them,” said John Nichols, a spokesman for the Texas Forest Service.

Last time the really big aviation equipment was delayed by supply and personnel shortages.

Less than a month ago, Celebration Community Church opened its doors to dozens of evacuees from the Labor Day fires, after the temporary shelters closed. Church administrator Will Swearingen wasn’t surprised they were called to action again so soon, given the persistent drought.

“No, I’m not shocked. I don’t know if it’s right or not, but I keep saying a little prayer for a hurricane. A nice long dousing rain of about four days,” said Swearingen.

That kind of rain might be in the cards, but likely not for a while.

“Maybe we will get some nice squall lines in the spring, maybe we will get a stalled cold front this coming month, maybe we will get a tropical disturbance in June,” said John Neilson-Gammon, the state’s climatologist. “Probably some place in the state those sorts of things will happen. So maybe only about 70 percent of Texas will be in a major drought next summer, rather than 95 percent, which is what the current value is.”

As for a hurricane or a tropical storm this season, meteorologists say it’s rare to see one of those hit Texas once  October arrives.