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Energy & Environment

Central Texas Fire Evacuees Allowed Back Home

Evacuated Central Texas residents whose homes were destroyed in a wildfire will be allowed to assess damage from the fire that’s burned more than seven square miles.

Firefighting aircraft release a mixture of water with ammonium phosphate or sulfate at the Lonesome Pines Ranch located just north of Buescher State Park. The mixture is more of a fire retardant then a fire extinguisher.

The Texas A&M Forest Service reports the blaze in Bastrop County, about 40 miles southeast of Austin, is 80 percent contained after burning nearly 70 homes. It apparently was started by arm equipment accidentally igniting grass.

“Now that we’re at 80 percent containment, the focus now begins to talk about recovery,” says Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape.

County officials say displaced residents are being allowed into the area to survey damage, but not start cleanup. Will Holford with Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative says power is back on for those residents.

“All the 441 meters that we de-energized during this event have been re-energized, so power has been fully restored.”

The National Weather Service predicts a chance for showers all week in the Bastrop area, which could help firefighters. But Holford says it might also cause other problems.

“That rain could loosen some of the soil and could bring some wind and some trees might fall.”

The Forest Service says 68 homes burned and 77 miscellaneous buildings were also destroyed since the Hidden Pines fire began October 13th. Buescher State Park remains closed through Friday due to the wildfire.

Meanwhile, crews have contained the wildfire that burned more than one square mile in an area north of Huntsville in Walker County. The Texas A&M Forest Service says two homes were lost in the fire that was fully contained by Tuesday afternoon, a day after being sparked by a vehicle hauling hay. Five barns and several sheds were destroyed.

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