Gov. Greg Abbott speaks on Hidden Pines fires


Following another set of wildfires in Bastrop County, Gov. Greg Abbott said Texas Military Operations is working to get more aircraft resources into the area.

Since the fires started on Tuesday, they have encompassed more than 4,500 acres of land, and about 15 percent of the fire is contained, according to the Texas A&M Fire Service. Nine homes were destroyed and 150 homes are threatened by the fires. The county is currently in a state of disaster.

At a press conference, Abbott said he was thankful for officials with state agencies and members of the community who are working to contain the damage and protect the citizens.

"Because of the challenges in containing this, shifting winds and weather conditions the way they are, we are adding more resources as we speak," Abbott said. "The Texas Military Operations are adding two more Black Hawk helicopters as well two Chinooks today to be sure they are able to respond more effectively."  

While the press conference occurred, Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said a helicopter was in the air with a GPS system tracking the perimeter of the fire but would not know until the afternoon how much acreage had burned.

Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said the difference right now between the 2011 Bastrop fires, which affected 96 percent of the approximately 6,565-acre state park, to the ones being dealt with today are the wind levels.

“The big difference is the winds right now,” Kidd said. “We had 50 mile a hour winds back then. If we get back to that point today, we’ve got to have the community listening to stay out of the way and we can save lives.”

In Bastrop and across the state of Texas, Kidd said it is likely these fires will need to be controlled for the next seven to 10 days. While it is important to have as many resources working to prevent the fires, Kidd said the timing of when resources arrive is important.

“We are seeing firefighters from not only across the state but tomorrow you will see national and schematic management teams as well as the state of Florida and the state of Georgia,” Kidd said. “This fire has national attention at this point and you’ll see additional resources come in. The timing of when they come in, what they do, where they go is critical not only for their safety but for the containment of the fire.”   

Pape said the area has dealt with fires before, but he appreciates the help and support the community receives.

"To have Gov. Abbott here today speaking in such genuine terms is a great comfort to the citizens of Bastrop County," Pape said.