The Hidden Pines Fire that began earlier this week continues to burn in central Texas.
Officials told Breitbart Texas the fires could continue to burn until assistance comes in the form of rain and lower winds. Meteorologists don’t forecast that help arriving until at least next Tuesday or more likely Wednesday.
Officials from the Texas A&M Forest Service told Breitbart Texas in a phone interview on Friday that the fire has grown to consume 4,582 acres. “We are officially reporting nine homes destroyed,” said spokesperson Jessica Jackson. She acknowledged that news outlets are reporting as many as thirty-four homes destroyed. “We have teams on the ground assessing the damage and as soon as we can confirm the losses, we will update the numbers.” She said the media reported numbers are likely to be accurate. Jackson reported that more than 150 homes are still in danger.
“We are looking for an increase in moisture and a break in the wind speed,” Jackson said. “Our weather forecaster said that could come on Tuesday.” Other weather outlets are reporting a 20 percent chance of rain on Tuesday and 40-60 percent on the days following that through to Saturday, October 24. A break in wind speed does not appear likely in the forecasts.
“We have a DC-10 tanker dropping fire retardant in tactical drops to protect as many homes as we can,” Jackson reported. “We are also using two heavy tankers and two Chinook helicopters.” Other aviation assets reportedly being utilized include eight single-engine tankers, two Type-1 helicopters, and four Blackhawks. She said firefighting teams from as far away as Georgia have been employed in attempting to tackle the fire.
On Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and State Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin), toured the fire stricken area. The governor then declared a state of emergency and requested assistance from the federal government.
“As severe wildfires continue to impact Bastrop County, I strongly urge Texans in that area to take all possible precautions to ensure their safety,” said Governor Abbott in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “By declaring a state of disaster in Bastrop County, the State of Texas is activating resources to help affected communities as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected, and I want to thank the first responders who are working tirelessly to provide care and resources to the impacted areas.”
If approved by the Obama Administration, Texas will be eligible for reimbursement of up to 75 percent of the costs associated with the fire.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.