Texas

wildfires
10:24 pm
Sun September 11, 2011

Bastrop Fire 50 Percent Contained, 1,554 Homes Destroyed

The remnants of a home in Tahitian Village neighborhood of Bastrop
Photo by Teresa Vieira for KUT News

Update at 4:47 p.m.

Bastrop County has published its re-entry plan online. The map shows when people will be sent back to their homes through Thursday. You can view the PDF here

The county has also released the list of 17 people they say did not register with emergency shelters. Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering emphasized that just because these people are unaccounted for, they are not being treated as missing persons. 

Here is the list of names:

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wildfires
2:25 pm
Fri September 9, 2011

Learn More About Wildfires With These Videos

The developments over the past few days have us a lot more interested in wildfire videos. The Discovery Channel video above explains the three different types of wildfires. Apparently, the most dangerous wildfires are in Australia’s eucalyptus forests, mainly because of that tree’s flammable oils.

This HowStuffWorks video explains some of the science behind wildfires.

It can be a little dry at times, but this 2007 Congressional hearing on the interplay between wildfires and global warming is pretty informative. Lawmakers heard testimony to examine how climate change may be increasing the frequency and intensity of wildfires.

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wildfires
1:22 pm
Fri September 9, 2011

Dewhurst Urges Feds To Grant Disaster Declaration Quickly

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst spoke during a press briefing this morning at the Bastrop Convention Center.
Photo by Mose Buchele, KUT News

Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst struck a confrontational tone with Washington this morning at an appearance in Bastrop. Dewhurst is running for a United States Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

“Last night in his speech, the president was using the words ‘right away,’” Dewhurst said from the podium during a press conference at the Bastrop Convention Center. “Mr. President, we need a statewide disaster declaration right away.”

President Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress last night in which he repeatedly urged lawmakers to pass his jobs bill “right away.”

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wildfires
12:26 pm
Fri September 9, 2011

Firefighters Had “Good Night” on Bastrop Complex Fire

Children's drawings thanking firefighters for their effort were taped to the front door of the Bastrop Convention Center this morning.
Photo by Mose Buchele, KUT News

Public safety officials are increasingly reluctant to provide specifics on exactly what progress is being made to combat a behemoth of a wildfire that has consumed more than 34,000 acres in Bastrop County, but they say the situation is improving.

“Things are looking pretty good out there. It’s simply a matter of time,” Bastrop County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Fisher said in a morning news briefing. He said a few embers had flitted across the fire line overnight, but crews were able to extinguish the flames quickly. Fisher is still pegging the level of containment around the 50 mile perimeter at 30 percent.

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wildfires
5:09 pm
Thu September 8, 2011

Winds and Low Humidity Complicate Bastrop Fire Containment

A home in the Bastrop neighborhood of Tahitian Village which was completely destroyed.
Photo by Lizzie Chen for KUT News and ReportingTexas.com

An increase in wind speeds and a drop in humidity this afternoon have caused some flare ups in the Bastrop Complex fire, a 34,000 acre blaze that has destroyed at least 1,386 homes.

“This is still a very active fire,” Bastrop County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Fisher said in an afternoon press briefing.

He said crews have shifted their focus to protecting undamaged structures outside the burn area, instead of trying to extinguish flames in already blackened wild lands.

“So far, they’ve been 100 percent successful with that,” Fisher said.

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wildfires
4:00 pm
Thu September 8, 2011

Steiner Ranch Fire 80 Percent Contained

Steiner Ranch resident Kate Stein's home was among the 23 destroyed by wildfire.
Photo by Erika Aguilar, KUT News

A wildfire in the Steiner Ranch subdivision is now 80 percent contained, up from 75 percent this morning. The blaze destroyed 23 homes and caused damage to 28 properties.

“I drove out there this afternoon and I couldn’t see any smoke or fire, which tells me they’re down in the valley fighting it in the brush, trying to keep it down away from the houses,” Travis County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Roger Wade said.

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wildfires
2:24 pm
Thu September 8, 2011

Satellite Photo Shows Bastrop Burn Zone

Photo copyright SPOT Image

We've seen images and video of the Bastrop wildfire from outer space, but this one captures the shape and scope of the 35,000 acre zone charred by flames. The area is 18 miles long and about six miles wide.

It was captured by a private French firm called SPOT Image and acquired by the US Air Force's Eagle Vision program. UT Austin's Center for Space Research processed the image. Texas Parks and Wildlife overlayed the park boundary. Check out a higher-resolution copy of the image here.

You may notice the word "LUECKE" in the bottom right of the photograph. This was actually the work of a property owner, who razed a forest on this property in the pattern of his name. NASA has called this "a target that is also useful for evaluating spatial resolution of astronaut photographs."

wildfires
1:42 pm
Thu September 8, 2011

Firefighters Toil Long Hours Battling Central Texas Blazes

Here are the faces of some of the firefighters who have been working overtime to quell the Union Chapel fire in Cedar Creek. Some of them stayed on the job for 60 hours.

Their efforts were ultimately successful. The fire is now 90 percent contained and people are being allowed to return to their property. Unfortunately, the wildfire destroyed 28 homes.

wildfires
1:06 pm
Thu September 8, 2011

Some Evacuated Bastrop Residents Can Return At 2 p.m.

Public safety officials are removing some roadblocks around the Bastrop Complex fire to allow people to return to their homes.  Here are the specific details on openings and closures from the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office: 

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wildfires
11:52 am
Thu September 8, 2011

Rescuing Pets From Bastrop Wildfire

Animal control officers from Bastrop and Austin went into the evacuated areas of Bastrop yesterday and began recovering animals that had been left behind by their owners.

In some cases, people couldn't get to their pets if the evacuation zone was sealed off before residents could return home.  The video above was produced by the Austin Humane Society (AHS) and posted to its YouTube channel.

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wildfires
11:28 am
Thu September 8, 2011

Bastrop Wildfire Still “30 Percent Contained”

Spc. Don Comstock with the Texas Army National Guard leads a bulldozer through a fire break yesterday in Bastrop County.
Photo by Texas Military Forces http://www.flickr.com/photos/texasmilitaryforces/

Fire officials appear hesitant to announce they have an upper hand in combating a wildfire in Bastrop County that has grown to 35,000 acres. But other indications suggest some progress is being made.

In a press briefing this morning at the Bastrop Convention Center, county emergency management coordinator Mike Fisher said the fire was still 30 percent contained. That was the same percentage provided Wednesday morning.

“We don’t want to claim that we contained something that we have not,” he said. “We may in fact be in better shape than that in terms of percent.”

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wildfires
10:34 am
Thu September 8, 2011

Bastrop County Releases New Fire Map

A cropped view of a fire map released this morning by Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management. You can download a full-sized version below.
Photo by Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management

The Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management posted a map of the burn zones this morning to its Facebook site. You can download a high resolution version here.

Another useful, interactive map of the Bastrop fire is provided here by Inciweb, an interagency website run by the United States Forest Service.

wildfires
6:22 pm
Wed September 7, 2011

Obama and Perry Talk Wildfires

President Obama called Governor Perry today to talk about wildfires burning in Texas. Here's the statement from the White House.

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wildfires
2:11 pm
Wed September 7, 2011

Firefighters “Gaining Control” of 34,000 Acre Bastrop Blaze

Evacuated residents wait for a briefing to begin this morning at the Bastrop Convention Center.
Photo by Mose Buchele, KUT News

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.

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wildfires
1:24 pm
Wed September 7, 2011

Smoke Affecting People With Respiratory Illness

Photo by themohers http://www.flickr.com/photos/30912734@N04/

Public health officials are urging people with asthma or other respiratory diseases to avoid exposure to smoke, especially if it's as thick as it was this morning in parts of Austin.

Dell Children’s Medical Center has reported an increase in the number of children arriving with respiratory complications, but doctors say it’s difficult to determine if it’s directly related to wildfire smoke.

“There’s no real way to say exactly how much is due to smoke or particulates in the air, versus how much is viral, and how much pollen and mold,” Dell Children’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pat Crocker told KUT News. “It makes it really hard to give an exact answer on" how many patients are directly affected by the smoke.

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