Texas A&M Forest Service and area firefighters spent a week battling wildfires in Llano County after a second blaze burned 422 acres — this one about 3.5 miles north of Llano — on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
The fire off County Road 215B north of Llano — which was being called the Lockhart Mountain fire due to its proximity to the 1,475-foot summit near the Little Llano River — has been 100 percent extinguished as of Sunday, Aug. 23.
The fire began about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18, and quickly spread due to dry and windy conditions, according to the Llano VFD and Texas Forest Service.
With help from the Llano Road and Bridge Department, area firefighters worked to install a fire guard, but rapidly changing wind directions caused the blaze to jump the guard and surround several brush trucks. Personnel had to wait for flames to subside before they could install a second fire guard, according to the Llano VFD.
This second guard was able to stop the fire’s progress, along with water drops via helicopter. Firefighters strengthened the guard throughout the night with help from bulldozers operated by the Texas Forest Service and were able to fortify the containment area, eventually getting the blaze under control.
Two firefighters were reportedly injured fighting the blaze and one Llano VFD service truck was lost. One of the firefighters was treated as the scene for heat-related issues, while a second suffered bluntforce trauma to a shoulder and was transported to BSW Llano ER, where he was treated and released.
The service truck caught fire due to a mechanical malfunction, though quick thinking by the firefighters aboard to drive the vehicle into a water tank on the property slowed the fire and limited its spread. Most of the tools and spare tires on the service truck were salvaged, but the truck was a total loss, Llano VFD reported.
Other fire departments which responded to the blaze included Tow VFD, Buchanan Dam VFD, Kingsland VFD, Valley Springs VFD, Cherokee VFD, Sunrise Beach VFD, Castell VFD, Sandy Harbor VFD, Hoover Valley VFD, Burnet VFD and Cassie VFD as well as the US Forest Service.
It was the second time in less than a week a wildfire has destroyed acreage in Llano County. An “unintentional roadside start” started either by a spark from a passing vehicle or piece of equipment 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 at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13.
State and local resources have been extremely busy responding to an uptick in wildfire activity across the state, the Texas A&M Forest Service reported. During the last week alone, Texas A&M Forest Service resources responded to 58 fires that burned 11,651 acres. This includes 35 fires that have burned 6,174 acres since Friday.
Many of these recent wildfire starts have been attributed to humans and their activities — such as equipment use and debris burning — and are preventable, according to the Forest Service.
Lockhart Mountain is named for Sam Lockhart, the first sheriff of Llano County, who was killed in office. It is surrounded by open stands of live oak and mesquite, which provided more than adequate fuel for the fire to spread.