Wed September 7, 2011
Firefighters “Gaining Control” of 34,000 Acre Bastrop Blaze
Firefighters say they are finally making progress on a vicious wildfire in Bastrop County that has charred 34,356 acres of land and destroyed almost 800 homes.
“We feel like that we’re gaining enough control where we’re not going to lose a lot more acreage today,” Bastrop County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Fisher said in a morning news briefing. Prior to the briefing, the blaze had been reported as 30 percent contained. Another containment update is not expected until this evening.
But Fisher said the fire has not moved southward for the last 36 hours. There has been slight movement along the eastern and western flanks overnight, but much less than the day before.
“We feel like perhaps today, perhaps today that we’ll have the perimeter secure where the fire will not get larger,” he said.
Texas Task Force 1, an elite search and rescue team, will conduct a grid search of the entire 34,000 acre burn zone, looking for whatever they can find, everything from environmental hazards to dead animals. Emergency officials hope not to find any more bodies. Two were discovered yesterday. Their identities have not been released to the media.
More than 4,000 people remain evacuated due to the Bastrop County wildfire. An emergency shelter set up at Bastrop Middle School will be closed today and moved to the First Baptist Church at 915 Highway 71 West.
Anyone wishing to make donations for the evacuees can do so at the Rundell Business Park, located at 704 Highway 71 West. Evacuees can also go there to receive donations. That donation center will operate from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Union Chapel fire in nearby Cedar Creek stands at 912 acres and is 20 percent contained. Fisher said he hopes emergency management officials can start talking to residents about re-entry by the end of the day.
Bluebonnet Electric says it still has 4,200 households without power. Work crews are being allowed to assess the situation in the area of Highway 21 North. That’s an outage area affecting some 1,650 customers. A Bluebonnet spokesman says the effort “will take days, not hours.”