Onion Creek Fire flares up again Thursday

What started out as a prescribed burn in Hays County became a real-life wildfire yesterday afternoon.  It was contained but it sparked back up again today.

The purpose of Wednesday's prescribed burn on FM 967 was to control brush and improve vegetation.  A routine practice even in the dry July heat.

"We do it at this time of year frequently because that's when we can get control of the brush," said Sherri Kuhl the Division Manager for Woodland Conservation with Austin Water Utility.

Kuhl says it's City of Austin land.

"Voters of the City of Austin approved bonds to purchase these lands to provide for water quality protection of Barton Springs," Kuhl said.

But the prescribed burn didn't go as planned. 

"We know that escapes are part of the business when you're doing prescribed burns.  Obviously it's something we don't want to happen, we plan for it just in case," said Palmer Buck, Division Chief with the Austin Fire Department.

Buck says the so-called Onion Creek Fire was contained Wednesday and they sat on it overnight.

"This morning as the sun came up, winds picked up a little bit which is a normal weather pattern this time of year.  We had a little flare up inside of our containment area but still some unburned fuels," Buck said.

On Thursday more resources were brought in like the Star Flight wildfire helicopter to help with water drops.

"Acreage total is a little over 800 acres.  560 that was planned and then an additional 250 to 300 acres from the escape," Buck said.

Buck says they spent the day making sure livestock and homes weren't affected.  He says the fire did reach two adjacent ranches but no homes are close.  Both AFD and Austin Water say they'll look at what went wrong with Wednesday's prescribed burn.

"We'll look and say 'where's there something that we could have done differently?  Should we have done something maybe increase the fire line between where we were burning and where we had the unturned fuel?'" Buck said.

As of Thursday afternoon Buck says the fire is still 100% contained, they're just working on those unburned spots inside the contained area that flared up.