Faulty vehicle emissions system likely caused Wimberley fire that threatened 100 homes

Major brush fire along FM 2325 in Wimberley, Texas on Jan. 30, 2018 (Hays County Constable Pct. 3 Photo)
Major brush fire along FM 2325 in Wimberley, Texas on Jan. 30, 2018 (Hays County Constable Pct. 3 Photo)

WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) — A fast-moving brush fire that burned hundreds of acres near Wimberley last week was likely caused by a vehicle’s faulty emissions system, the Hays County fire marshal said Monday, following multiple interviews and an investigation. Officials say roughly 100 homes were threatened during the fire on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

The 350-acre fire, revised down from an initial total of 750 acres, was ignited at 19 areas — at least — along a 5-mile stretch of Farm to Market 2325 near Valley Spring Road, northwest of the town of Wimberley.

Hays County Fire Marshal Clint Browning said some of the ignition sites spread out several hundred yards and may have covered other places along the road where fires were started.

Smaller burn areas on nearby Pump Station Road, two miles from FM 2325, did not spread due to the rocky soil.

Texas A&M Forest Service tanker dropping retardant on a brush fire in Wimberley on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Courtesy: Bob Fireman)
Texas A&M Forest Service tanker dropping retardant on a brush fire in Wimberley on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Courtesy: Bob Fireman)

Investigators believe the fire was accidentally started after finding no evidence of an incendiary used along the road.

“Thanks to the quick action of the Wimberley Fire Department in arriving at the scene and requesting assistance from the Hays County Wildland Fire Task Force, which includes all fire departments in Hays County, the fire was 100 percent contained during the night of Jan. 30,” said Justin McInnis, the assistant emergency management coordinator for the Hays County Office of Emergency Services.

A large number of agencies, including the Kyle and Buda fire departments, North Hays Fire and Rescue and the Texas A&M Forest Service, which brought in an air tanker to drop fire retardant, responded to the call for help in fighting the blaze.

Along with people following burn bans, in place in Hays County and much of Central Texas, McInnis stressed basic fire safety principles: “Don’t throw your cigarettes out of the car window, maintain your vehicles, keep tow chains off the ground, and take proper precautions when towing.”

He said the safety of many of the threatened homes during the fire can be attributed to homeowners keeping their grass mowed and trees away from structures, as well as storing flammables away from buildings, greatly enhancing the survivability of the property.

For more information on the wildfire danger, visit HaysInformed.com.

Major brush fire along FM 2325 in Wimberley, Texas on Jan. 30, 2018 (Hays County Constable Pct. 3 Photo)
Major brush fire along FM 2325 in Wimberley, Texas on Jan. 30, 2018 (Hays County Constable Pct. 3 Photo)

 

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