'You couldn't really see anything': Hays County homeowner recalls Smoke Rider fire experience

Officials with the Texas A&M Forest Service said the Smoke Rider fire in Blanco County near Hays County was 60 percent contained Wednesday afternoon. 

The fire, which started Tuesday around noon, was just 30 percent contained Wednesday morning. 

"It came super fast, and it was kind of so involved that you really couldn’t see anything," said homeowner Ed Vaughan. 

Vaughan estimates approximately 40 of his 100-acre property burned in the fire. 

"You couldn’t see 100 or 200 yards in front of you, but there were helicopters picking up water out of my tank working this area — working my property here for probably an hour and a half and all you can say is ‘thank God for the guys who were out here.’" 


Vaughan rode out the fire from his home with his dog. The structure remained untouched. 

"Prepare for fire. Be fire wise," he stressed. 

Vaughan worked at the Henly Volunteer Fire Department for several years after 9/11, where he learned how to protect buildings from fires.  "One of the things they’ll teach you right off is to build a perimeter," he said. "Make sure you don’t have brush close to a house." 

Walter Flocke of the Texas A&M Forest Service says crews from across the country are working the approximately 800-acre fire. "We are using heavy equipment and aviation resources to reach full containment," he explained. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, three residential structures and one occupied trailer were destroyed in the blaze, officials say. 

"I don’t have a complaint at all," said Vaughan. "Thank God for the [firefighters] that are out here they’ve done a, you know, hell of a job." 

Flocke said firefighters have yet to determine a cause for the blaze, but stressed they do not believe it is natural. 

"We can spell out natural causes, there was no lightning anywhere in the area yesterday," he said.