Monday, September 5, 2011

Surrounded by Wildfire

*I have intentionally left out photos of homes burning as they are too disturbing.  All photos are taken from KVUE and KXAN new stations.  These photos were submitted by local viewers.  News updates from KVUE & KXAN news and from the Williamson County Emergency Response FB & Twitter pages.

If you follow me on Facebook, then you know that I have spent the day posting updates on the fires around my beloved home in Austin, Texas as well as frantically checking in my with my friends. Many of my friends are living in shelters or other friends'/relatives' homes tonight because their subdivision is being engulfed by flames. Rampant, wild flames. And dark, thick plumes of smoke.

Lack of rain for months coupled with summer-long enforced water restrictions and multiple100+ degree days led to terrible drought conditions. Add in 20mph gusts of winds due to Tropical Storm Lee and you have the perfect formula for wildfires.

My Beloved Austin

Last week, there was severe flooding and wind damaged homes and trees on the East coast due to Hurricane Irene. This weekend, Central Texas has become an inferno. Earlier this year, there were tornadoes creating unheard of damage in cities across the Midwest. My Aunt K's house was actually hit during one freak funnel cloud. It is so hard for me to not ask" when are the locusts coming?" Oh wait, they came this spring-- the return of the cicadas in my old hometown of St. Louis. Is the end of the world approaching?

My family is fine.  Our neighborhood is okay and the smoke is not bad from where we are situated. However, we are literally surrounded by fires, but at this minute, my family is safe. Our neighborhood is safe. That, unfortunately can change at any time.

This Labor Day weekend, there were no BBQs to celebrate the end of Summer. There was no grilling or smoking (as in brisket) in general. Instead, wildfires were/are ravishing Bastrop, Leander, Cedar Park, and a large neighborhood in NW Austin called Steiner Ranch. 

Helicopter fighting the fire at Steiner Ranch

Below is a video of Steiner Ranch. I have several friends who live there. Several friends who were forced from their homes last night without a chance to grab much of anything other than their children.  I saw a cellphone video posted by a friend as they drove out of the neighborhood.  It was gory. I have friends who still do not know if their homes are still standing. Twenty-five homes have been completely destroyed with another 25-50 damaged. Just when the fire crews believe all is under control, flare ups ignite. The fire fighters are exhausted. All of this from an overhead power line. Update: Wind gusts caused two overhead powerlines to collide and spark.  This leading to fire.  At 10:30am, it is hoped residents will learn if their homes are still standing.

This morning there was a fire in Cedar Park, not far from where we live. It is hypothesized that the two demolished homes, down to the studs occurred as the result of a careless motorist flicking their cigarette butt out the window.  Other homes have been damaged.  This is proof that smoking cigarettes is bad.

A Fire in Cedar Park, TX 

Perhaps the scariest of all, are the 450+ homes incinerated in Bastrop and the more than 25,000 acres that have burned and are continuing to burn. Twenty-Five Thousand! Over 5,000 people have been evacuated from Bastrop. Some of these evacuees have been re-evacuated (if that is such a word) because their shelters were in the line of the fire. Our firefighters are tired. We do not have enough.

Update: 9/6/11 Over 30,000 acres have been destroyed and there is 0% containment. 

Aerial view of Bastrop

As of 5pm on September 5th, a new fire broke out in Leander. The cause is unknown at this point and more of my friends are now in shelters. More of my friends are having to find a place for their beloved pets.  Update: 9/6/11 at 10am, news conference to at Rouse HS to discuss if residents can return to homes.  It is thought that the fire is contained, but there are rumors of 'flare ups'

Fighting the Leander Fire Earlier This Evening

Here is an interactive map of the fires. I pray that when you click on this link, the number of fires has significantly decreased.

Reverse 911.  Please register your cell phone number:

How you can help  (I will try to keep this list updated):

Local Buddies:

  • Attention Central Texas firemen and surround areas- the fires in Steiner, Bastrop, Leander, etc are exceeding abilities of on duty personnel- please call 512 978 1187
  • Hill Country Bible Church NW is accepting donations from 8am-8pm this week. Bottled water, gatorade, eye drops, hand wipes, nasal spray, individually wrapped snacks such as peanut butter crackers, protein bars, etc. Address is: 12124 Ranch Road 620 North, Austin, TX
  • Collections are also being taken in the Liberty Hill area. You can call Chuck Licata at 512-466-7751 to help.
  • Anyone in Hays County hoping to volunteer or donate water and food for firefighters or evacuees can contact Volunteer Coordinator Lidia Contreras at 512-393-7302.
  • Cash donations should be made directly to the Red Cross of Central Texas.
  • Free adoptions at to make room for the animals displaced in the wildfire. Please help in any way you can. 
  • Catholic Charities of Central Texas will accept donations for wildfire victims on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Donations can be brought to the Diocese of Austin Pastoral Center at 6225 Highway 290 East from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Donations will also be accepted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Catholic Charities of Central Texas in Austin at 1817 East Sixth Street. Organizers are asking for donations of the following items:
    • Medical Supplies
      • BP Cuff
      • Nebulizer
      • Thermometer
      • Glucometer
      • Pen lights
      • Tongue Depressors
      • Ibuprofen
      • Gauze Wrap
      • ACE Bandages
      • Neosporin Cream
      • Bandages
    • Other Supplies:
      • Sleeping Bags
      • Blankets
      • Pillows
      • Towels
      • Shampoo
      • Body wash
      • Toothpaste
      • Paper Plates, Cups, Napkins, Plastic Utensils
      • Deodorant Sprays for men and women
      • Disposable Razors
      • Shaving Cream
      • Baby Wipes
      • Size 4 Diapers
      • Baby Shampoo
    • Donations can be taken to the Click Computers of Georgetown store, located at 1102 S Austin Ave, Suite 109, Georgetown, TX through Friday, Sept. 16.
    • The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas (CAFB) is requesting assistance in the following ways: Financial donations to CAFB can be made at Funds raised will go directly to helping CAFB in this disaster response.  The relief effort will be long-term and monetary donations will be necessary for many months.
      CAFB food donations can be made at the following locations:
    • CAFB warehouse located at 8201 S. Congress Avenue, Austin , TX 78745 (8-5 p.m. or leave in boxes on dock outside of those hours)North Donation Spots for CAFB
    • Georgetown – Caring Place at  2000 Railroad St., Georgetown, TX 78627 -- 512-869-473
    • Round Rock Serving Center at 1099 East Main St., Round Rock, TX 78664 -- 512-244-2431
    • SVDP Round Rock -- 620 Round Rock West -Round Rock, TX 78681 -- 512-255-2330
    • To hold a food drive at your workplace, school, church etc., CAFB has large food donation boxes available for pick up at their warehouse. Once filled please return to CAFB or call 512-282-2111 to arrange for a pick up.
      Most desired food donations are healthy, non-perishable items such as:
      -       Water, Gatorade
      -       Ready to eat meals preferably with pull up or pop tops, e.g. chili, stew, canned pasta w/sauce
      -       Single serving snacks such as protein or granola bars
      -       Lunchables or other single serving foods that do not require refrigeration
      -       Diapers
      -       Baby formula
    • Other locations taking donations:
    350 Discovery Blvd in Cedar Park
    Paul Mitchell The School: 15635 Vision Drive, Ste 107, Pflugerville
    Hill Country Bible Church: 12124 Ranch Road 620 North, Austin
    Catholic Health Association: 6225 E. Highway 290
    St. Williams Catholic Church in Round Rock

    • Photobucket


  1. I pray for you all, families, frineds, firefighters, law enforcement, medical personnel, shelter and first responders, for all of thier safety. God Bless you all.

  2. how awful - that looks downright scary and heartbreaking... prayers your way

  3. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! This is awful and scary. My heart cries for everyone who has been affected. We NEED rain. Desperately.

  4. Prayers for all of you, Anna. Puts everything into perspective...Be safe!

  5. I was just telling my daughter that over 1000 homes had already burned in Texas. It's so sad. Be safe!

  6. So sad and scary. Prayers for all of you! My cousin is part of the firefighting team called the 'Hotshots' and is on his way out there to help in the efforts. Hope they can get it under control soon!


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