Friday weather helps contain 40 percent of wildfire

SMITHVILLE, Texas— The change in wind direction eased fears for some property owners who were in the path of the Hidden Pines fire. For firefighters, however, it meant containing 40 percent of the wildfire. 

Friday morning Bastrop County officials counted 48 structures listed destroyed and nearly 5,000 acres scorched. Investigators also said they believe the fire was started by a farmer who was involved in a process called shredding. His equipment allegedly hit a rock— sparking the fire.

The break in the weather Friday did provide fire crews with an opportunity to attack smoldering hot spots.

Despite progress, those who lost their homes four years ago—in the 2011 Bastrop fire— say they don't want to be lulled into a false sense of security.

"It's a guarded relief, absolutely. We thought we were out of the woods last time, and of course, it got us. I don't think you can really ever relax until the last little piece of the fire is out," Jim Minto, a resident on Antiock Road, said.

With wind changes, those who live closer to Highway 71 found themselves in the new path of the fire. Several people turned on garden hoses to water down their yards. Most, like Randy Geltmeier – who was burned out in 2011, know a small water hose will not hold back a firestorm.

"The last time I had 45-minutes notice. This time, I've had three days and I actually think 45 minutes is better on my nerves. That's the way it goes," Geltmeier said.

Robert Kraft, another resident in the area, says he would like to see the state create a fleet of air tankers to help attack big fires faster.

"It just seems like every time I call, man, we are caught with our pants down," Kraft said.

Several large tankers from out of state started arriving Thursday. A big DC-10 flew in Friday afternoon, dropping fire retardant in the Hidden Pine area.
 

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