The Latest: Central Texas wildfire now 40 percent contained
Oct. 16, 2015
SMITHVILLE, Texas (AP) — The latest on a wildfire in Central Texas (all times local):
Authorities say firefighters have now contained 40 percent of a Central Texas wildfire that has scorched more than 7 square miles.
Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said Friday evening that the battle is "on the downhill side," barring some unforeseen circumstance. He said the blaze is now being held in check by containment lines.
But more homes have been lost. Pape said nearly 50 structures, most of which are believed to be houses, have been destroyed. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported.
The Hidden Pines fire began Tuesday about 40 miles southeast of Austin. Some residents haven't been able to return to their homes.
Authorities believe a farming accident may have sparked a wildfire that has consumed more than 7 square miles in Central Texas and destroyed 40 structures.
Speaking at a news conference Friday, Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape and other officials didn't explain how the accident caused the blaze, but only that it happened during a "farming operation."
About 300 firefighters are awaiting the arrival of a DC-10 jet tanker from Tennessee that can drop close to 12,000 gallons of retardant over a swath three-fourths of a mile long.
The Hidden Pines Fire began Tuesday about 40 miles southeast of Austin and is 25 percent contained.
A cool front is expected to bring wind gusts Friday and Pape says the fire either will be more fully contained or it could worsen.
This report has been corrected to show that Pape updated the area burned from 6 square miles to 7 square miles.
The Texas A&M Forest Service says a wildfire that's blackened more than 6 square miles in Central Texas is about 25 percent contained.
Forest Service spokeswoman Jessica Jackson says a DC-10 jet tanker is being dispatched Friday from Chattanooga, Tennessee to assist in firefighting efforts in Smithville, some 40 miles southeast of Austin. The tanker can drop nearly 12,000 gallons of flame retardant at a time.
Jackson says no injuries have been reported since the wildfire began Tuesday.
Parts of Bastrop State Park are closed Friday due to fire damage.
Forecasters predict more hot, dry weather through the weekend, with temperatures in the 80s, and no chance of showers until Tuesday.