Texas Wildfire: Clean-up Operations Continue at Bastrop
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was on the scene, photographing the devastating fire.
Update Sunday, Sept. 8, 2011, 12:33PM
Texas Parks and Wildlife fire-fighting personnel were continuing with clean up work at Bastrop State Park Thursday, having saved almost all the historic Depression-era structures on the 6,000-acre park just east of fire-ravaged Bastrop. The number of firefighters and equipment involved has been scaled down, but personnel were still working with assorted hotspots on the park and keeping a wary eye on the wind speed as a weak cold front passed through the area.
The fire began Sunday afternoon, and through Tuesday afternoon, TPWD remained very concerned about the Civilian Conservation Corps cabins and other buildings on the park. Some firefighters worked 30 hours straight without rest or sleep in battling the blaze.
The park and nearby Buescher State Park remain closed to the public until further notice.
Video Update Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, 11:04AM
Update Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011, 9:13AM
Despite earlier optimism, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department firefighters and other personnel were still facing a fire threat to historic structures at Bastrop State Park early today. According to incident commander Robert Crossman, most of the 6,000-acre park has now been blackened by fire, but firefighters have so far been able to save the Civilian Conservation Corps-constructed structures on the park, with two possible exceptions – 2 CCC observation structures believed to have been damaged.
“We still have critical fire behavior threatening the CCC cabins,” Crossman said. He said firefighters, assisted by newly arrived federal firefighters, dealt with two flare-ups at the park overnight, one at midnight and the other at 5 a.m. today. Firefighters are using heavy equipment, much of it provided by donors who responded to a TPWD call for assistance, and water trucks to build fire breaks and saturate the ground around the historic structures.
Update Monday, Sept. 5, 2011, 9:16PM
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fire fighters and other personnel have made substantial headway in their effort to save the historic infrastructure of Bastrop State Park from the wildfire that has ravaged portions of Bastrop County. As of 8 p.m., while some active fire remained in the park, the incident commander said the situation looked more favorable than it had all day, and expressed optimism that the battle to save the park has paid off.
However, fire fighters will continue to work on preventing further spread of the fire inside the park and will be on hand again Tuesday morning.
No further reports will be issued tonight unless the situation changes.
Update Monday, Sept. 5, 2011, 2:56PM
As of 2:30 p.m. all but essential Texas Parks and Wildlife Department personnel were ordered to evacuate the command post at Bastrop State Park as state park firefighters continue to battle the blaze at the 6,000-acre park in Bastrop County. High plumes of black and brown smoke continued to move slowly toward the park from the northeast fueled by gusting winds expected to reach 35 mph.
The fire has been advancing toward the park despite extensive water drops from aircraft as coordinated by the Texas Forest Service.
State parks officials are still planning to make an all-out effort to save historic structures on the park, many of which were constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Park officials are also concerned about threats to the endangered Houston toad. The 124,000-acre Lost Pines area of Bastrop County, which includes the state park, is home to the largest known population of the small, reclusive amphibians in the U.S.
State parks director Brent Leisure said the toad has already been stressed by the ongoing drought and loss of habitat caused by wildfires that have covered two thirds of the park will likely impact the toad further.
Update Monday, Sept. 5, 2011, 10:20AM
TPWD has 40-plus personnel currently on Bastrop State Park working to save the historic Depression-era structures on the 6,000-acre park. Personnel also are working on Buescher State Park, which covers about 1,000 acres. As of 10 a.m., dark smoke was visible from the park, and occasionally billowing over the park. Active fire is located both to the north and south of the park at this time.
Personnel involved include TPWD State Park fire fighters, State Park Police, Game Wardens and others.
The fire yesterday damaged the regional state park headquarters on State Highway 71, about four miles from the park. In addition, two TPWD employees lost their homes in Bastrop County. Some TPWD vehicles and other equipment were destroyed, but damage was somewhat less than first believed.
TPWD firefighters have been warned to expect "extreme fire behavior" with winds expecting to gust up to 35 mph this afternoon. The Texas Forest Service reports the Bastrop Complex fire now covers 25,000 acres and is 0 percent contained.
Additional information will be released as developments warrant. For more detail on these two historic state parks see the TPWD web site at www.tpwd.state.tx.us
Update Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011, 9:36PM
An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 acres of 6,500-acre Bastrop State Park have been burned in the ongoing Bastrop County wildfire. The park superintendent reported at 9:30 p.m. that the park is still surrounded by fire, but its spread has slowed with a drop in wind speeds. At this time, no park structures have been damaged. About a dozen state parks fire fighters are battling the blaze in the park, along with about a dozen law enforcement personnel and local firefighters. As reported earlier, the TPWD regional park office about four miles from the park was destroyed by fire as was the personal residence of the state parks director, who works at the Austin state headquarters. No injuries to TPWD personnel have been reported.
Update Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011, 8:25PM
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department personnel and firefighters have been fighting to save the historic Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps structures in Bastrop State Park as a major wildfire continues to burn in Bastrop County. While the situation at the park is unclear at this time, it had earlier been evacuated of all campers and visitors. State Parks Division Director Brent Leisure reports that the regional state parks office about 4 miles from the park on State Highway 71 has been destroyed by fire. Leisure, who works out of the state headquarters in Austin, also has lost his personal residence in Bastrop County.
In Travis County, state game wardens have been assisting in evacuations at the Steiner Ranch fire off Ranch Road 620.
Elsewhere, other state game wardens are involved in helping local authorities in other wildfire situations across Central Texas.