Texas state park wildfire forces homes to evacuate

BASTROP, Texas >> A wildfire erupted Tuesday in a central Texas state park, forcing the evacuation of dozens of residences in the town of Bastrop, the site of a deadly blaze a decade ago.

The blaze broke out in Bastrop State Park as wind gusts of up to 20 mph (32 km/h) spread the flames. The Bastrop Emergency Management Office issued a wildfire advisory just before 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The blaze scorched more than 300 acres (1.2 square kilometers) and forced the evacuation of more than 100 homes Tuesday night, said Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Kari Hines.

The Bastrop County Judge’s office estimated the damage at 630 acres (2.5 square kilometers), or about 10% of the park’s size, according to the KXAN television station. The judge is the county’s highest elected official.

A notice from Texas Parks and Wildlife said a prescribed burn was planned for a road in the park earlier Tuesday. Authorities have not confirmed that this was the cause of the fire.

Authorities closed the area above the park to flights, leaving it open to firefighters. Several local roads were closed to traffic.

Neighboring Travis County had banned fires Tuesday. Bastrop County had not.

More wind and abnormally hot temperatures – with a high of nearly 80 degrees – were forecast for Wednesday, with a chance of rain and a chill expected on Thursday.

The 2011 wildfire destroyed 1,600 homes in Bastrop, burning more than 50 square miles (1,630 square kilometers), including 96% of the state park.

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