Energy & Environment

State Pulls Together To Fight Bastrop County’s Hidden Pines Fire

The mutual aid system has been fine-tuned since the last Central Texas fire.

Montgomery County Strike Team
The Montgomery County Strike Team operations at the Hidden Pines Fire in Bastrop County.

Firefighters have managed to contain about 70 percent of that wildfire near Austin.

Nearly 300 firefighters are being assisted by at least seven aircraft dumping water and fire retardant at the Hidden Pines fire in Bastrop County, about 40 miles southeast of Austin. Resources have been mobilized through the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System. Beaumont, Galveston and Webster firefighters are helping.

“We’ve brought roughly 35 fire engines, three tactical water tenders, probably close to a 100+ firefighters,” says Steve Pollock, chief regional fire coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service, which administers the mutual aid system.

The mutual aid program was created during the 2009 Texas legislature. The program offers training, equipment and vehicle grants, credentialing standards and mobilization systems to make statewide use of local resources. Texas is broken down into eight geographic regions.

“In this case we put a request out for the strike teams and engines and tenders,” says Pollock. “And then we have a data base with all the departments and they’ll reach out to the next branch — in this case, say Houston, and that would be our south-central branch.”

Pollock says the mutual aid system has been fine-tuned since the last Central Texas fire.

“2011 was really some of our initial responses, so since that time we worked out a lot of bugs,” he says.

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