Evacuation order lifted for Grimes County residents

June 23, 2011 12:38:55 PM PDT
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 sheriff's office says the Dyer Mill fire in Grimes County is now 95 percent contained.

On Thursday afternoon, the evacuation order was officially lifted, but the sheriff is advising anyone returning to their home to beware of potential safety hazards.

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.

Evacuation information

According to the Grimes County Sheriff's Office, the evacuations had earlier been 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

On Thursday afternoon the mandatory evacuation order for CR 304 from 344 to CR 302; and CR 302 from Lone Star to Micrea was lifted as well.

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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