An "unintentional roadside start" has been determined to be the origin of a fire which destroyed one home, damaged another and consumed 400 acres in the Trails and Blue Lakes subdivisions near Horseshoe Bay last week, Texas A&M Forest Service officials said.
The fire, which caused the voluntary evacuation of about 45 homes in the area, is believed to have been started either by a spark from a passing vehicle or piece of equipment at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, said Erin O'Connor of the Texas A&M Forest Service.
Just one day earlier, the Llano County Office of Emergency Management had warned the public through Facebook there is a ban in place on outdoor burning.
"Secure all chains and prevent them from dragging (as) many wildfires are started this way along the highways," the post read. "The wild land fuels are very dry — Help everyone be safe. Pray for rain."
Dry conditions due to very little recent precipitation and wind gusts of up to 15 mph helped spread the fire and threaten multiple structures. There were reports of a lot of smoke and falling ash as far away as Kjngsland and the fires were visible from as far away as Marble Falls.
Ground resources, including local fire departments, worked to construct containment lines around the fire and utilized burn out operations to strengthen hold containment lines, while engines were engaged in structure protection.
Aviation resources were brought in, including an Air Attack platform, three single-engine air tankers (SEATs) and a Type 1 helicopter, to make water and retardant drops on the fire and at the fire’s edge to help slow its forward progression, O’Connor said. A temporary flight restriction, NOTAM FDC 0/2426, was in place over the fire area to provide a safe environment for firefighting aircraft.
Evacuees were told to go to the First Baptist Church of Marble Falls, 901 La Ventana Drive, for emergency shelter. By 8 p.m. Thursday, the voluntary evacuations were lifted and residents were allowed to go back to their homes.
On Friday, Aug. 14, significant progress was made in containing the fire, which allowed resources to actively engage in mop up operations, working hotspots and mitigating any areas of concerns across the fire footprint, O’Connor said. By the end of the day Friday, the fire had been 95 percent contained, and by late afternoon Saturday, Aug. 15, it was fully contained.
Llano County fire departments which helped battle the blaze included Horseshoe Bay Fire Rescue, Llano VFD, Sandy Harbor VFD, Sunrise Beach VFD, Kingsland VFD and Buchanan VFD. Burnet County resources included Marble Falls Fire Rescue, Marble Falls Area VFD, Spicewood Fire Rescue, Granite Shoals Fire Rescue, Burnet Fire Department, Burnet VFD, Cassie VFD, East Lake Buchanan VFD, Bertram VFD, Oakalla VFD and Hoover Valley VFD.
Coming up from Blanco County to offer support were Round Mountain VFD and Johnson City VFD. Also helping out were U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Balcones NWR and STAR Flight with additional support from Burnet County Command Post, Horseshoe Bay PD, Llano County SO, Burnet County SO, Burnet County Pct. 4 Road and Bridge, Marble Falls Area EMS, the Red Cross and the Highland Lakes Crisis Network.