BURNET — An all-terrain vehicle has been determined as the cause of the Park Road 4 fire near Inks Lake State Park, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.
Herb Darling, development services director for Burnet County, said ATV accidentally started the blaze July 29 on private property between CR 116 and Park Road 4.
“What that tells you is it’s just powder-keg dry,” Darling said of land conditions caused by lack of rain.
As a result of the heat and dry vegetation, Burnet County Judge James Oakley declared an emergency burn ban effective July 30. That means no outdoor burning, cooking, or welding.
Texas A&M Forest Service public information officer Andy NeSmith said more than 100 people are fighting the fire, which is at 50 percent containment. The fire has burned a total of 557 acres as of July 30.
Along with numerous brush trucks and dozers, air support has been dropping water on hot spots and fire lines. However, a report in the afternoon of drones flying near the area caused concern. The presence of drones in the sky forces air support to land until the airspace is clear. Officials are asking anyone with drones not to fly them anywhere in the vicinity as firefighting efforts continue.
Just a few evacuations remain in place for residents on CR 116. Crews are working to determine which homes are still without power and need electricity restored. No injuries or damaged homes have been reported.
Along with local departments, firefighters from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Oklahoma have been on the scene.
People who want to help the firefighting efforts are discouraged from driving to the command station; however, Darling offered some ways residents can help.
“If they have a local neighborhood fire department, drop off a couple cases of water, and they can use it down the line,” Darling said. “As far as on-the-scene stuff, we’re good.”
Firefighting efforts will continue through the night and likely into much of the week until all hot spots are controlled and a 100 percent containment line is established.
STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
HOOVER’S VALLEY — Smoke is no longer billowing from a wildfire near Inks Lake State Park and Park Road 4 as forward progression has stopped.
Officials reported at 1 p.m. July 30 that the fire was at 557 acres and was minimally active. The containment line established by dozers was at 35 percent.
Helicopters continued dropping large buckets of water over the fire throughout the morning.
With seemingly good news regarding the fire, crews will remain diligent as a front moves through the area, bringing high wind gusts and the possibility of thunderstorms. According to the National Weather Service, Buchanan Dam has a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m. today and a 50 percent chance tonight. Air operations will continue dependent on the weather, and ground crews are extinguishing hot spots and improving containment lines.
The Burnet County Sheriff’s Office reported that no injuries have been reported due to the fire and no homes were damaged. Fifteen fire departments and more than 50 local personnel responded to the wildfire.
Park Road 4 and CR 116 remain closed to through traffic. Inks Lake State Park is open to evacuated visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 30 so they can collect their belongings that had been left during evacuation July 29. Although the fire breached the state park, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reported no campsites were damaged.
Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery remains closed, and Camp Longhorn voluntarily evacuated about 800 campers to a neighboring camp.
On July 29, Hoover Valley Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched at 2:52 p.m. to the fire near Inks Lake State Park. Multiple agencies were requested for assistance. The cause has not yet been reported.
Evacuations were ordered July 29 for residents near the fire. As of that evening, the Deer Springs neighborhood and anyone east of FM 3509 and CR 143 were allowed to return home. Residents still affected by evacuations can seek shelter at the Burnet Community Center, 401 E. Jackson St. in Burnet.
UPDATE (10 a.m. July 30): Inks Lake State Park announced on its Facebook page a little after 9 a.m. that campers will be able to return to the park from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, July 30, to retrieve their belongings. The park will only be open at this time. Campers will not be allowed to stay. The only access to the park is from Texas 29 to Park Road 4. Campers must bring their park permits and the minimum number of people needed to pick up belongings then check in at park headquarters. After retrieving their things, campers must check out at headquarters.
UPDATE (7 a.m. July 30): After monitoring the fire overnight, the Texas A&M Forest Service reported the blaze remained at 500 acres burned and was up to 35 percent contained. The Burnet County Sheriff’s Office reported at midnight that no homes had been lost and residents in the Deer Springs area could return to their homes. Officials have also reported that no campsites at Inks Lake State Park have burned.
BUCHANAN DAM — Park Road 4 and Hoover’s Valley Road (CR 3509) are closed to through traffic as a wildfire forced evacuations from Inks Lake State Park and nearby homes.
The Texas A&M Forest Service is responding to the fire. Area fire departments are also assisting just days after fighting multiple wildfires in Burnet, Llano, and Blanco counties.
The fire is burning on the Burnet County side of Inks Lake between CR 116 and Inks Lake State Park.
Residents on CR 116 to Park Road 4 have been evacuated. They can seek shelter at the Burnet Community Center, 401 E Jackson St. Officials ask that people avoid calling the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office or messaging its Facebook page as Burnet County dispatch is coordinating with fire departments and law enforcement on the scene.
At 7:20 p.m., the Forest Service said the fire was estimated to be at about 500 acres and 5 percent contained. The Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery, state park, and about 150 homes have been evacuated.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the fire began on private property but breached the boundary of Inks Lake State Park.