UPDATE: As of 4 p.m. July 18, the wildfire had expanded and scorched approximately 775 acres, according to fire officials on the scene. The advancing blaze has prompted crews to launch a series of water drops on the scene.
STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
ROUND MOUNTAIN — Texas A&M Forest Service crews descended on a runaway blaze July 18 that was possibly sparked by fireworks the night before and spread through undeveloped ranch land on the Blanco/Llano county line.
Investigators believe the fire started at about 5 p.m. July 17 on the south side of RR 962 adjacent to the Reagor Ranch in Blanco County.
By 10 p.m., more than a dozen agencies from at least four counties responded to try to slow the progress of the fire, which is being fueled by dry, hot, windy conditions.
“It was a little unnerving,” said Kim Edwards, whose family has property in Blanco County. “A crew last night (was staged) across from one of our gates on Ranch Road 962. They had set a backfire and were monitoring it closely.
“We were so fortunate the winds didn’t blow towards our home and so thankful for the volunteers that gave of their time and talents,” she added.
At the height of the blaze, crews reportedly evacuated at least one family on the south side of Texas 71 in Llano County.
Of the several hundred acres scorched in areas along FM 3347 and Smith West Ranch Road (CR 308) in Blanco County, about 80 acres were reported burning in Llano County.
“We had crews there from Burnet County,” said Burnet County Pct. 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery. “There were some concerns we weren’t going to be able to stop it at Higway 71, which would have affected Sandy Harbor and Horseshoe Bay.”
Horseshoe Bay Fire Rescue, Marble Falls Fire Rescue, and the Marble Falls Police Department Mobile Communications Command played roles in staging to protect an area north of Texas 71.
By July 18, the advancing blaze prompted the forest service to join area crews in the containment effort.
By mid-morning, the blaze was considered 15-25 percent contained.
“Right now, they’re evaluating the situation,” said Blanco County Pct. 3 Commissioner Chris Liesmann, who is also the county’s emergency management coordinator. “They’re using a dozer to cut a perimeter.”
As of just before noon July 18, officials reported no property damage or loss of life.
However, a persistent fire danger continues to challenge crews tasked with keeping residents safe.
“The high temperatures and low humidity levels are one of the mitigating factors in this. As the temperatures continue to increase and sustain, the fire danger continues to be high,” Dockery said. “Whether it’s an open flame or any type of ignition source, i.e. fireworks, people need to exercise an abundance of caution.”