Fires continue to burn across the state

September 6, 2011 11:58:07 AM PDT
The drought and gusty winds are adding up to a dangerous and deadly situation as wildfires rage across Texas. A lot of attention right now is on the fire in Bastrop County, southeast of Austin where firefighters have been unable to get any type of control and at least 500 homes have been destroyed.

Smoke and flames still billow across already charred Texas land. In the midst of the evacuation zone, Pat Gordon defiantly tries to save his home.

"I just came out here to look at my dog, my home, to make sure everything is pretty safe," Gordon said.

While his home remain in tact, so many of the houses and business along Highway 71 are nothing more than shells of what they used to be.

Wind and flames whipped through this neighborhood so quickly that the ground still smolders. The number of homes burned in Bastrop County is only growing by the hour.

"We're just trying to get fire off of houses, a bunch of them, we're able to get to where we're getting the fire off the houses," said Mark Stinson.

He manages one of dozens of fire crews fanned out across the county battling the unrelenting flames. There is a mandatory evacuation, but in the heart of Texas, some Texans are stubborn.

"We came back to look at some horses," said Stinson.

The future of horses, goats, and thousands of other livestock in ranches across Bastrop County remain uncertain. And for Pat Gordon, it doesn't matter how many houses have burned. He is determined to stay and save his no matter the price.

"I've done too much in my life anyway. I'm not important," Gordon said.

At least 5,000 people were forced from their homes.

The Red Cross says for the Bastrop evacuees, a shelter is being set up at Second Baptist church in La Grange, 1010 N. Von Minden.

For more information, you can call the Bastrop County donation center hotline at 512-332-8977. And you can call 512-332-8807 for information on what is needed and to assure coordination.

Earlier Monday

High winds and the ongoing dry conditions are fueling wildfires throughout the state.

The biggest concentration and the latest of those wildfires are currently outside Austin, specifically in Bastrop. A fire there has burned more than 14,000 acres and is 16 miles long.

The massive wildfire has destroyed more than 300 homes and more are still in danger. County officials are going door-to door to tell people to leave their homes.

Five shelters have been set up for evacuees. Engines and dozers are on their way to Bastrop to help local crews.

At least one-third of Bastrop State Park has been burned. Officials say this fire shows no signs of slowing.

We got word Monday of a barn that's in the fire's path. Between 40 and 50 horses are in need of transport. If you can help, you're asked to call 512-467-4893 and ask for Beth.

Another fire is burning in the central Texas area. In Pflugerville, crews are working to protect homes threatened by flames. That fire has consumed about 200 acres. A total of three separate grass fires erupted there Sunday afternoon.

To see if roads across the state are open, call (800) 452-9292.

You may have noticed the smell of smoke here in Houston when you woke up. And part of that may be due to a number of smaller wildfires that broke out in our area yesterday. One of those was up in Walker County. The Department of Public Safety says that fire burned 150 acres around FM 1696 near I-45. At one point, firefighters had to evacuated a few homes and close down the highway. Fire crews tell us that fire is now out and the road is back open. All evacuees have been allowed to return.

Out in Katy, crews from a number of fire departments battled a large wildfire off the Katy Freeway near the Grand Parkway. Crews say the high winds caused some power lines to arch and that sparked the fire. Sixty acres quickly burned up due to the wild conditions. That fire is also under control.

And another fire burned in Colorado county right off I-10. Witnesses say two homes have burned so far and fire officials have several others evacuated. The fire is about 1,500 acres in size and as of last night, it was only about 25 percent contained.

If you have photos and/or video of one of today's grass fires, you can send them in to be featured online. Upload them to iWitness.abc13.com or email them to News@abc13.com.


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