By Brittany Anderson
HAYS COUNTY — Firefighters from Hays County and across the state have battled two separate wildfires for nearly a week now, with one fully contained and another nearly contained.
On Aug. 2 around 1 p.m., a 200 to 250-acre wildfire (“Smoke Rider”) ignited near the Hays/Blanco County line in the Las Colinas Drive area off FM 165. The fire prompted evacuations in the area, including the Dripping Springs PAWS Shelter, as it moved northwest towards Highway 290. The fire continued to grow, but officials said forward progression had stopped by the morning of Aug. 3.
As of Aug. 8 at 9:54 a.m., the fire burned a total of 1,210 acres but was 100% contained. Among the losses were seven homes and recreational vehicles with multiple barns and other equipment, according to the Blanco County Emergency Management.
The Texas A&M Forest Service assisted with the Smoke Rider Fire alongside fire departments from Hays, Blanco and Travis counties.
On Aug. 3 around 5 p.m., just one day after the Smoke Rider Fire started, another wildfire (“Hermosa”) ignited in Wimberley in the River Mountain Ranch area between Bluff View and the Blanco River. Roughly 45 households voluntarily evacuated and eight were instructed to leave by county officials. According to officials, 14 primary homes were threatened and one sustained minor damage, and two out-building structures had minor damage. Evacuation orders were lifted on Aug. 5 at 6 p.m.
A short thunderstorm on Aug. 6 brought “much needed moisture” to some of the fire area, although operations were briefly slowed as there was significant lightning on and near the fireground.
Multiple reinforcements were called in to assist the Hermosa Fire, including crews from Missouri and Florida alongside Wimberley Fire Rescue and North Hays County Fire Rescue. Hays County CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team), who help provide firefighters food, water, light first aid and a place to rest, were also on scene.
According to the Texas A&M Forest Service incident viewer, as of Aug. 7 at 4:19 p.m. the size of the fire was 44 acres and at 90% containment.
The community has poured out support with both wildfires. Hays County Office of Emergency Management shared that fighting fires “takes a village” — and along with various donations from the local community, Hays City Store, Texas Cannon Brewing Co., Lowe’s Market, Sysco, Main St. Donuts & Kolaches, El Charro in Johnson City and Wimberley Fire Rescue all helped provide drinks and meals.
Blanco Methodist Church and First Baptist Church of Wimberley also stepped up as temporary shelters for those who evacuated.
If you were affected by either fire and need assistance, go to www.br3t.org and click on the Need Help? tab, or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767.
All residents are also encouraged to sign up for emergency notifications from WarnCentralTexas, as the area continues to experience unprecedented drought. Go to www.warncentraltexas.org for more information on the alerts, as well as how to sign up to receive them.