A wildfire east of Austin, Texas, that showed no signs of abating Monday night has destroyed hundreds of homes in the state, which has seen more than 3.5 million acres burned so far this year.
The fire has burned more than 25,000 acres and ruined about 500 homes in Bastrop County, making it the worst-ever single fire in the state. In addition, 251 of the 254 Texas counties are reporting burn bans.
The Texas Forest Service has dozens of aircraft ready to respond, including four heavy airtankers, 15 single-engine airtankers, 12 helicopters, and 13 aerial supervision aircraft. A Type 1 incident management team has been requested to assist at the Bastrop County Complex.
Following is the latest update with respect to various counties:
Bastrop County: Heavy airtankers and SEATs assisted on this fire that started in the Lost Pines area just northeast of Bastrop. The fire has moved unchecked for at least 16 miles to the south and has jumped the Colorado River twice. The Circle D, K.C. Estates, Pine Forest, Colovista, and Tahitian Village subdivisions have been evacuated. Firefighters are trying to hold the fire at FM 2571. Reports indicate possibly 500 homes have been destroyed and 5000 people have been evacuated.
Steiner Ranch, Travis County: The fire started just north of the Steiner Ranch subdivision. More than 1,000 homes are under mandatory evacuation in Steiner Ranch. At least 25 homes are reported lost. A TIFMAS strike team responded.
Pedernales Bend, Travis County: The fire is burning four miles southeast of Spicewood. Twenty homes were lost, 30 homes damaged.
Henderson #495, Henderson County: 5,000 acres, unknown containment. Three homes were saved.
#491, Limestone County: 3,000 acres, unknown containment. Six homes were saved and one was lost on this fire 20 miles east of Waco.
Delhi, Caldwell County: 1,000 acres, 10 percent contained. Twenty homes were saved and six were lost on this fire east of Lockhart.
Strong winds and low relative humidity from Tropical Storm Lee caused numerous wildfires to spread rapidly in Texas, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing thousands to evacuate. More evacuations are likely as the fires spread, officials said.
Gov. Rick Perry had to cut short a visit to South Carolina and canceled a trip to California to oversee the firefighting efforts. Though weather officials predict winds will die down to some extent on Tuesday, fire authorities said the blaze has extreme growth potential.
Following is a fact sheet of Texas Fires:
Texas Fires 2011 Fact Sheet
(All figures are from Nov.15 2010 to Sept. 5, unless noted.)
Days on incident: 293
Personnel currently on incident: 1251
States that have sent firefighters or other personnel:
49 plus District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands
Total fires in Texas since Nov. 15, 2010: 20,906
Total acres burned in Texas since Nov. 15, 2010: 3,601,775
(exceeds previous record of 2,105,361 acres set in 2005-2006)
Fires in Texas in 2011: 18,887
Fires nationally in 2011: 55,477
Proportion of total national fires in 2011 that have occurred in Texas: 34 percent
Acres burned in Texas in 2011: 3,538,852
Acres burned nationally in 2011: 7,213,113
Proportion of total national acres that have burned in Texas: 49 percent
Ten-year U.S. national average acres burned: 5,863,193 acres/year
Six of the 10 largest wildfires in Texas history occurred in 2011.
Total Aviation Hours: 13,577.05 (As of 9/5/11)
Total aviation drops: 40,950
Gallons of fire retardant dropped: 4,856,080
Gallons of water dropped: 20,851,869
Most flight hours recorded in a single day: 238.39 (20 June 2011)
Most gallons of water and retardant dropped in a single day: 1,188,883 (1 Sept 2011)
(Note: All air operation figures are from 21 Dec. 2010, when record-keeping began.)
Texas counties where Texas Forest Service has fought wildfires: 199 of 254
Homes and structures saved since November 15, 2010: 45,359
Homes saved: 29,055
Homes and structures lost since November 15, 2010: 3,523
Homes lost: 1,091
Record number of homes lost in Texas history on a single fire: 476 homes lost on the Bastrop County Complex Fire on Sept. 4 and 5, 2011.
Texas counties with burn bans: 251 of 254
(Exceeds previous record of 221 set in 2006)