Today's rain helps with Grimes Co. firefight

June 22, 2011 5:55:53 PM PDT
Relief at last! From wildfires to water restrictions, residents suffering through the extreme heat and drought rejoiced Wednesday as rain finally fell in our region, the first real rain in months. Some residents in Grimes County were allowed to return to their homes Wednesday after fire forced them to evacuate, but some are finding the damage had already been done.

Several homes are flattened, and cars are burned in spots across the Dyer Mills fire zone. Police road blocks are keeping some families from going inside for now.

Steven and Natalie Morris are among many worried neighbors in Grimes County desperately waiting to see if the wild fire hit their home.

"We just want to go down County Road 344 here and see if our house is still there," said evacuee Steven Morris.

Investigators escorted 13 Eyewitness News into the fire zone down County Road 344 near John Bear. That's where we found several homes flattened by the fire. Cars were burned and fences were crumpled like aluminum foil. Miraculously, a few goats on a ranch survived. They say the fire destroyed 30 homes and a Buddhist temple.

"We're very regretful of the losses that homeowners received," said Justice Jones with the Texas Forest Service.

The Texas Forest Service has been monitoring the fiery mess for days. Workers say Wednesday's rain has helped crews contain the fire. It's at 50 percent now. Investigators are calling the rain a game-changer, not a game-ender.

"We're in a major drought deficit right now," said Jones. "One rain event is not going to really put a dent in that. It just buys us a little time on this fire."

According to the Grimes County Sheriff's Office, the evacuations were lifted for the following areas:

  • County Road 202 (Pine Brook Subdivision)
  • County Road 201 (Shadow Lake Subdivision)
  • County Road 306 through to County Road 362
  • FM 1748
  • County Road 308

Mandatory evacuation remains in place for CR 304 from 344 to CR 302; and CR 302 from Lone Star to Micrea.

The evacuation order had been in effect for about 1,800 residences and businesses. Many of those who evacuated were staying at shelters set up in the county.

County officials told us on Tuesday that the Dyer Mill fire was accidentally sparked by a barbecue grill.

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