Controlled burn blazes out of control

Photo courtesy of the Austin Fire Department

A controlled burn by by Austin Water’s Wildland Conservation Division blazed out of control just west of Buda on the 6000 block of FM 967.

According to Palmer Buck, Austin Fire Department Division Chief, a controlled burn that began 11 a.m. Wednesday crossed a designated “fire line” when workers reported that the flames had ignited a cedar tree. Fire crews had achieved about 400 acres of a prescribed 550-acre burn before it “escaped”.

“Conditions that cause us to have a burn ban in effect are also conditions that make for good prescribed burning to be effective,” Buck said. “Certainly, if it was raining out here, we wouldn’t get a good prescribed burn. So it’s that balance that we’re going to get a good controlled burn, but there is that danger that we have an escape like we had today.”

(photo by Chris Wilkinson, Austin Fire Deptarment photographer)

The fire was confirmed to have spread over 200-300 additonal acres on Austin city property and two ranches, Aspen and Nestor. There are no reports of any damage to people, property or livestock in the area.

Austin Police Department’s helicopter, Austin-Travis County EMS STARFlight, was deployed to douse the flames and area fire departments from Kyle, Buda and Hays also assisted with the blaze.

Fire crews worked to contain the area throughout the night and into the next day. County Commissioner Mark Jones confirmed that around 7 p.m. the fire was considered 90% contained. However, the commissioner reported that around 9 p.m., Austin management on the site continued the controlled burn of the previously designated area that had not yet been burned without notifying Hays County.

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