Evacuation order lifted for Grimes County residents

June 23, 2011 7:47:12 PM PDT
There's finally some good news for residents in Grimes County who've been forced out of their homes by a wildfire as county officials Thursday have lifted the mandatory evacuation.

Investigators say the good news is they now have the Dyer Mills wild fire 95 percent contained. And they're allowing hundreds of people to return home.

The Grimes County judge lifted the mandatory evacuation during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters say the rain over the last two days allowed then to get the upper hand on the wild fire. We've watched it burn across more than 5,200 acres this week.

The Texas Forest Service says 30 homes are now destroyed, seven homes are damaged. 35 Out buildings are destroyed and six buildings at a Buddhist temple have burned among other property.

Around 1,800 people were forced to leave their homes this week. As they return home to the affected area, emergency workers are reminding them the fire could flare up again in some spots.

Many of the families returning home will be seeing the destruction for the first time.

The sheriff is advising anyone returning to their home to beware of potential safety hazards. Residents may face falling tree and downed power lines, snakes and disoriented wildlife.

The American Red Cross and other agencies will be available to meet with affected residents Saturday, June 24 at 9am at Navasota High School.

Residents express frustration at Wed. meeting

Rain doused the wildfires across southeast Texas and gave firefighters some much needed relief. But even with the showers, some are finding it hard to move on after losing almost everything.

Wednesday's showers have helped firefighters contain many of the wildfires that have scorched southeast Texas the last few days.

The fire has left many homeless, and they're wondering what to do next. On Wednesday night, they got a little more information at a town hall meeting.

A round of applause was given to all the firefighters who put their lives on the line, but the work isn't over and the heartache and frustration hasn't ended either.

"Don't give me that. I'm going home after this and let them try to stop me," one resident said.

Wednesday's rain was a big boost.

"Helped us penetrate into this fire and put the flames down where we could go direct on it," Texas Forest Service Spokesman Lee Bentley said. "Yesterday, we were at 35 percent containment and today, we're at 75 percent with continuous improvement of the line."

About 5,800 acres have burned and 30 homes were destroyed and 20 more structures were lost, making it one of the worst in Texas.

"There's been a lot of bigger fires than this but as far as homes destroyed, this is one of the worst. Property damage has been tremendous," Bentley said.

While some homeowners have been able to return, others are still being shut out.

"The sheriff will have to deal with that situation when ya'll are trying to go back in. That's his job to enforce," a town hall attendee said.

And even though their homes are standing, they're frustrated.

"Why can't we go up to a police officer and say, 'Here, here's my license. I live down there,' and let us go home," another attendee said.

Fire officials have called these conditions unprecedented, saying at one point this was the number one priority fire in the entire nation.

The Grimes County sheriff says he's relieved there's been no loss of human life and no firefighters injured.

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.

Load Comments