wildfires
11:51 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Burn Ban Lifted In Bastrop County

It was only twelve weeks ago that dangerously dry conditions fueled a horrific wildfire in Bastrop County. The flames scorched more than 34,000 acres and destroyed 1,600 homes. Two people were found dead.

This morning, it is apparently safe to burn again in Bastrop.

The Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management posted on its Facebook page that county commissioners have voted to lift the burn ban. But emergency officials added a word of caution.

“Please conduct outdoor burning carefully. Contact your local fire department if you have questions regarding safe outdoor burning practices,” the office said in the Facebook post. Later, it added this guide from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that explains some “Dos and Don’ts” of burning.

Travis County Commissioners lifted their burn ban last week on the advice of the fire marshal, Hershel Lee. He explained to KUT News that recent rains and conversations with with local fire department chiefs led him to believe that a temporary lift of the ban would be okay. Commissioners will consider whether to reinstate the ban at their weekly meeting tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Bastrop State Park is scheduled to reopen partially this Friday. Close to 90 percent of the park was burned, destroying its famous pine tree canopy and leaving a moonscape in its wake.

The fire “is going to change the view that people are used to seeing when they drive through Bastrop State Park, kind of the tunnel of pine trees,” Bastrop State Park superintendent Todd McClanahan told us in October.

For the 1,600 families whose homes were destroyed, an 83-year-old Austin artist is offering a small consolation by providing hand painted portraits of every single lost house, free of charge.

“When I think about this, it's actually selfish in a way because I enjoy painting so much,” Mary Curtis told the Austin American-Statesman.  Check out their video of Curtis here.