Strong winds fuel fires, cause damage across area

Strong winds toppled a gas station canopy at 7-Eleven on Jan. 22, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)
Strong winds toppled a gas station canopy at 7-Eleven on Jan. 22, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Wind gusts up to 50 mph fanned flames in at least two brush fires in Central Texas Sunday. Meanwhile, trees, power lines and a gas station canopy in the area struggled to cope with the strong winds.

The first fire happened near the community of Stairtown, about five miles west of Luling. Caldwell County emergency officials said 12 to 14 acres were scorched near State Highway 80 and FM 671. The fire has been contained.

A larger fire started a few hours later in Pflugerville. Firefighters were dispatched to Heatherwilde Boulevard at Highway 45 just after 5:20 p.m. The fire burned 20 acres, but no structures were affected. Pflugerville FD units responded, with help from Round Rock and Hutto fire departments.

A Red Flag Warning and Wind Advisory were both in effect until 6 p.m. for most of Central Texas.

The strong winds also caused the canopy at the 7-Eleven gas station at the corner of North Lamar Boulevard and Payton Gin Road to topple. Power went out for more than 1,400 Austin Energy customers west of Riverside Drive and Interstate 35. Austin police had to direct traffic at the intersection. “I was in the shower when the power went out so I came out and it was kind of dark in there,” said Joey Schechter who lives in the area.

Austin Energy says a large tree that fell from a neighbor’s yard on to power lines, is to blame for the outage. Homes along Travis Heights Boulevard were without power for hours. “I’ve noticed a lot of debris flying around, we’re out here trying to do some preventative maintenance with a lot of the branches,” said Dane Kenney who helped neighbors clean up debris as they waited for power to be restored.

Winds clocked in at 43 mph at Camp Mabry and 46 mph at ABIA.

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