Austin
4:22 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

Restaurant Hosts Fundraiser For Oak Hill Wildfire Victims

People who lost property in a wildfire in the southwest Austin neighborhood of Oak Hill will get some help this weekend from Jack Allen's Kitchen. The restaurant is hosting a $20 appetizer buffet from 2 pm to 4 pm Saturday with all proceeds going to wildfire victims.

"It's just kind of a show of support, and a way for everyone to get together and mend a little bit," Jack Allen's Kitchen co-owner Tom Kamm told KUT News.

Kamm said several restaurant employees have homes that were threatened by the fire. Some of their regular guests live in the neighborhood.

"A lot of drama and emotions that day," Kamm said. "These are our neighbors and we wanted to help people."

Eleven homes were destroyed by Sunday's 100-acre blaze. Ten were damaged. Firefighters arrested a homeless man near the scene. Investigators allege he had started a campfire to cook eggs and left the embers unattended while he went to a store to buy beer. 60-year-old Michael Bernard Weathers has a court date set for May 20 on charges of second-degree arson.

The Austin Fire Department yesterday provided a final update to the media on the wildfire. YNN quoted Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, who pegged the damage at $5 million.

Curious Austinites have reportedly been driving to the affected neighborhood for a closer look at the fire damage. KVUE reports that it has been annoying to those whose homes have been destroyed.

"It's an invasion of privacy," said Gina Cilia, whose once quiet street is now filled with those wanting a closer look at the fire damage. "It's a tragedy that a lot of people have lost their homes, and it's even more of a tragedy that people just want to gawk at it."

Public safety officials on Monday released dozens of 911 calls that came into their call center reporting the fire. KXAN has posted several of those calls here.