Texas sets fire

Jeramy Hudson

     On the afternoon of August 15, 2011, a fire in Leander devastated many families. The 30 acre blaze destroyed 15 homes and 16 cars, but little did we know that this would be the least of our problems.

     With Texas in a severe drought and Hurricane Lee causing windy weather, fires are igniting all over Central Texas. In the month of September, over 36,000 acres of land and over 1,700 homes have been burned due to wildfires, making what may seem the worst disaster in Texas history. 
     During Labor Day weekend on September 4, a fire in Bastrop burned over 34,000 acres of land. The fire, which was likely caused by power line sparks destroyed over 1,600 homes and killed two people. The wildfire is the most destructive fire in Texas History. The fire was completely distinguished on Friday, September 30. The damage estimate for this fire alone is at an estimated cost of $250 million.

     A fire that broke out in the Mason Creek North subdivision in Leander started September 5. The blaze destroyed 11 homes and damaged nine. The fire wasn’t fully contained until Wednesday, September 7. During a press conference on Tuesday, September 6, Leander Fire Chief Bill Gardner announced that the fire was determined to have been stated by arson. A device was found that they believe started the fire. Four teenagers were reportedly seen fleeing the scene.

    When you hear about a fire in another city or state, people may feel bad, but it doesn’t hit nearly as hard when it happens in their own city. The Middle Brook Apartments on Cypress Creek caught fire Wednesday, September 7. It was contained within an hour. Although the fire started as a structure fire and is still under investigation, it scared an already weary couscous public.

     “It’s really scary that the fires are so close,” Abby Ho, sophomore, said. “You can be safe one minute and the next minute there may be a fire in your front yard.”

     A few days after the massive Bastrop fire was contained, another fire ignited. The Bastrop fire, or as locals are calling it “The Old Potato Road Fire”, began on October 4. No homes have been affected by the fire but about 50 homes have been evacuated by the Circle D Subdivision. The subdivision was also affected by the earlier massive Bastrop fire.

     As fires continue to burn helpless citizen’s homes, make sure to take precautions by following the burn ban currently in effect for Williamson County. The Declaration of Disaster was issued by County Judge Dan A. Gattis on Monday, September 5 that prohibits the “outdoor burning of any combustible material”, which include outdoor cooking of any kind and improperly putting out cigarettes. By not following the declaration, it can result in a fine up to $1,000, and possibly confinement in jail. If you see any smoke, fire or any other suspicious activity, be sure to immediately call 911. With the change in weather and much more rain, let’s hope that this the end of the wildfire season.