"This has to be an echo of a nightmare," governor says, referring to a 2011 Bastrop fire
Hidden Pines Fire in Bastrop County destroys nine homes and threatens 150 more
Blaze consumes nearly 4,400 acres and is 25% contained
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster Thursday in Bastrop County outside Austin, where a wildfire destroyed 38 structures, most of them homes, and raced across nearly 4,400 acres, authorities said.
The Hidden Pines Fire threatens more than 150 homes, authorities said.
Roughly 400 homes have been evacuated, said Jessica Jackson with Texas A&M Forest Service.
The fire was 25% contained by Thursday evening, the Texas Interagency Coordination Center said.
Fixed-wing air tankers and helicopters joined ground crews in battling the fire, which began Tuesday. Bastrop County is about 35 miles southeast of the Texas capital.
The governor’s declaration marks a one-time disaster and requires immediate resources. A state of emergency declaration would have meant a long-term disaster and required long-term resources.
“As severe wildfires continue to impact Bastrop County, I strongly urge Texans in that area to take all possible precautions to ensure their safety,” Abbott said in a statement. “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.”
Bastrop County was also home to a devastating wildfire in September 2011 that destroyed 1,691 homes and killed two people, CNN affiliate KXAN reported.
The 2011 Bastrop Complex Fire roared for 24 days and scorched 34,000 acres. Sparks from power lines caused the fire, the station said.
Abbott referenced that 2011 fire during a press conference.
“This has to be an echo of a nightmare that (residents) faced just a few years ago. Anyone who travels down just Highway 71 can see the charred remains of trees that were burned in the last fire, now only to see only another fire arise. I understand members of the community may be concerned about it,” Abbott said.
In September 2011, Texas experienced scores of wildfires that prompted President Barack Obama to declare a major disaster in the state. Those fires came as Texas saw its worst dry spell since 1895.