I'm sure everyone has been hearing about all the wildfires in Texas these days. Yes...it is a pretty big deal down here...especially when you consider that all the land that has been consumed by these fires has been equivalent to the size of Connecticut so far. That's a lot of fire. The biggest one so far has been just outside of Bastrop, a small town about 25 miles east of Austin. I've been there several times and like it...they've had some nice little festivals that I've been to.
This fire has consumed about 34,000 acres and at least 1,400 homes so far. That's pretty incredible. It seems like the news always changes, but I think it's about 45% contained so far. I decided to head up that way today to find out if there was anything to see. See the brown grass underneath the highway sign?
That's pretty much how it looks all over Texas these days. Brown, brown and more brown...
As are the fields. Unless you've been watering your grass, it will crunch under your feet. No walking barefoot in grass these days...which is pretty much a rule in Texas, anyway, because of the fire ants.
So, this is what it looks like as I'm driving into Bastrop. (By the way, Bastrop is about 45 miles from San Marcos.) I was expecting more dark clouds, but just saw a kind of haziness above the horizon...and definitely smelled smoke.
I had expected to see skies more like this (a photo I nabbed off the net), but that was probably when it first got started.
I had to drive all the way through Bastrop to the eastern side to see what damage had been done. Lots of brown ground and stripped trees.
By the way, I took almost all these pictures as I was driving by at about 60 miles an hour, so some of them are kind of fuzzy, but you'll get the point. By looking at the pictures, you don't really know what was destroyed. Along these Texas roads, you'll pass by nice homes, then some businesses, along with some trailer homes and deserted buildings. So, I can't tell you what "used to be" in the photos.
Looks like all that's left of this place is the fireplace/chimney...
See how all the grass is burned up in the median between the two lanes? It's crazy how fire can "jump" like that. But, then again, when you think how hot it must be when there are roaring flames on the other side of the road, it would only take a spark to light a dry blade of grass.
Notice that there are pines in some of these pictures. South Central Texas doesn't have a lot of pines and I can remember that the first time I drove through this area about four years ago, I was so impressed with these pines because I could smell them...a fond reminder of the pines of the Black Hills where I used to live. There was no smell of pines today...and there probably won't be one for quite some time.
Some areas had heavy machinery that were obviously doing some kind of repair work.
There were lots of police cars out and many of them were posted at side roads preventing people from passing. I did manage to go down one, though, and saw this sad scene of home owners sifting through the burnt rubble of their house...
I panned back and took this picture which included the house next to it. It totally amazes me that one house can be burnt to the ground, and the one next to it won't even have a char mark. I guess those fire fighters really know what they're doing.
There were lots of little stations set up with free supplies for victims. I went into the grocery store to pick up a few items and passed by many people who were talking with friends and acquaintances about their experiences...very sad.
As I was driving home, I passed through Lockhart...a very small town in between Bastrop and San Marcos. The court houses in some of these little towns are so impressive. I remember seeing some when I did my Route 66 tour through Missouri back in 2004. I hope the fire doesn't consume this.
Apparently, Obama has finally agreed to give federal aid to the wildfire disasters in Texas. If we don't get rain soon (which isn't in the forecast), it's only going to get worse. At least the temperatures are slowly starting to dip. We just seriously need some rain.