HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A controlled burn conducted by Austin Water’s Wildland Conservation Division just west of Buda moved outside of the containment line and burned 250 additional acres.
Austin Water says the prescribed burn started around 11 a.m. Wednesday and would take 6-7 hours to complete. Fire crews had achieved about 400 acres of a prescribed 550-acre burn before it “escaped” around 2:45 p.m. and set fire to an extra 200 acres they didn’t intend to burn in an area just southwest of Farm to Market 967 and Farm to Market 1626.
Austin Police Department’s helicopter, Austin-Travis County EMS STARFlight, the Texas A&M Forest Service and area fire departments assisted. The Forest Service sent a bulldozer and a crew of three from Smithville.
Jill Mayfield, a spokesperson for Austin Water, says since it’s in a large wildland space, no homes are in danger. “We have a lot of professionals out there, so we’re feeling confident. We prepare for these situations,” says Mayfield.
“Conditions that cause us to have a burn ban in effect are also conditions that make for good prescribed burning to be effective,” said AFD Division Chief Palmer Buck. “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.”
As of 9 p.m., the fire is 100 percent contained.
KXAN’s First Warning Weather Team says the temperature in that area as of 3:30 p.m. is 97 degrees and the average wind speed has been around 5 mph.
Austin-Travis County EMS sent the Ambulance Bus to the scene so firefighters and emergency crews have a cool place to go into while fighting the fire.
Prescribed burns are conducted to maintain fire-resilient landscapes for the benefit of people, water and wildlife.