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A prescribed fire in Central Texas spread beyond its intended boundaries and forced some residents to evacuate, officials say

<i>Jay Janner/AP</i><br/>A prescribed fire in Central Texas
Jay Janner/AP
A prescribed fire in Central Texas "spread beyond the intended fire boundaries" and swelled to hundreds of acres

By Aya Elamroussi and Joe Sutton, CNN

A prescribed fire in Central Texas “spread beyond the intended fire boundaries” Tuesday and swelled to hundreds of acres, forcing some residents to evacuate as crews battled the blaze overnight, local officials said.

The Rolling Pines Fire in Bastrop County was sparked Tuesday morning and grew to 500 acres and 10% containment as of Tuesday night, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. The fire was burning along Power Plant Road and Highway 21, officials said.

Officials issued evacuation orders for multiple areas surrounding the blaze, though some residents were later allowed to return to their homes. It’s unclear how many people were asked to evacuate the area.

“Fire behavior has greatly reduced over the last few hours, allowing for firefighters to use direct attack tactics to create containment line,” the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management said in a Tuesday night update. “Our tactical objectives for night shift include continued structure protection and constructing containment line using heavy equipment.”

Bastrop County is located about 30 miles southeast of Austin.

Texas officials deployed multiple resources to combat the fire, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday in a news release. The Texas A&M Forest Service deployed about 75 firefighters, and a medical team was sent to the area. No injuries were reported as of Tuesday night, according to InciWeb, the clearinghouse for wildfire information in the US.

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) initiated a prescribed fire at Bastrop State Park that spread beyond the intended fire boundaries,” the department said in a news release. “The cause of that spread is unknown at this time.”

Prescribed burns are used to prevent wildfires by reducing fuel loads, and they also help manage the forest, TPWD explained.

Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said Tuesday the prescribed burn was set to cover 150 acres, according to CNN affiliate KEYE-TV.

“Today has been a day that is typical for this time of year in this part of Texas, and it’s not unusual for us to see some changing weather conditions as the day progresses and that may be what has happened today,” Pape said.

Carter Smith, who heads the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said the prescribed fire began at 10:30 a.m., and spotting was seen outside the prescribed area around noon, likely from embers, KEYE-TV reported.

“Resources are in evacuated areas patrolling to detect any containment issues with additional resources being ordered for tonight and tomorrow,” the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management said in its Tuesday night update. “Winds are expected to die down this evening with increasing relative humidity throughout the night.”

Officials asked Bluebonnet Electric to de-energize power lines along Highway 21 serving more than 300 customers for safety precautions, KEYE-TV reported. A temporary flight restriction has also been issued for the area, officials said.

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CNN’s Chris Boyette contributed to this report.

CNN Newsource


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