Bastrop County fire serves as warning to growing fire threat

A fire northeast of Bastrop started Monday afternoon and burned through the night, but thanks to fire crews from 11 different agencies, it was limited to about 40 acres.

Crews kept the flames inside an old burn scar left behind by a much bigger fire eight years ago. The conditions now are not as severe as it was in 2011, and one other thing worked in their favor, according to Kari Hines with the Texas A&M Forest Service.

"But since it was completely surrounded, almost completely surrounded by roads, firefighters were able to use those to build containment, which is a good thing,” said Hines.

On Tuesday morning the fire was contained and limited to several burning tree stumps. The fire was designated as the Cassel Way fire, for the small road near SH 21 where the fire began.

Bastrop County ESD 2 Fire Chief Josh Gill said investigators determined the wildfire started with the burning of a brush pile that got out of control.

"This was a difficult fire to contain because of the lack of access, so our goal was to protect the structures and contain it at the roads,” said Gill.  

Crews from ESD 2 returned to the area around noon Tuesday and small brush vehicles were used to knock down stubborn hot spots.

The drought status in Bastrop County is currently listed as slight, but move further west, it increases to moderate. That and the Cassel Way fire provide some justification for officials who want people to throttle back on their fireworks.

A fireworks stand is located across the street from the fire zone. The staff Monday night was ready to hook it up to a truck and move out, according to Joe Padilla. On Tuesday afternoon Padilla was back open, but a few items were already missing from the stand before the fire.

"No rockets with fins, this year, we are not even selling the 24-inch rockets this time, that’s a good thing really because sometimes they're the ones that stray off, and you can’t catch that fire when you get there,” said Padilla. 

Each sale did come with some free advice.

"Make sure you're clear of any debris of any kind, and have a fire extinguisher or big bucket of water, to try to put it out and most of all be clear of your hose, it's not a good way to start a new year,” said Padilla. 

An example of how quickly things can change took place at the Cassel Way scene as the mop-up operation began. There was a report of another brush fire so part of the crew rolled out and went to fight it.