Fire agencies assess Horseshoe Bay wildfire battle

Contributed/Kelly McDuffie
A more than 300-acre runaway brush fire adjacent to the Horseshoe Bay airport Aug. 25 prompted helicopter water bucket drops to contain the blaze.




By Lew K. Cohn
Managing Editor •

Llano and Burnet County officials breathed a collective sigh of relief the afternoon of Aug. 26 after a weekend brush fire which threatened nearly 150 Horseshoe Bay residences was declared fully contained.

“It was a tremendous effort starting with the initial response from both Horseshoe Bay and Marble Falls fire departments and we could not have contained this fire without the help of all of our mutual aid partners who assisted,” said Horseshoe Bay fire chief Joe Morris.

“This fire burned right up to airport hangars full of multimillion dollar jets and burned right up to homes in several areas. It is amazing how much was done within a short amount of time and we were fortunate that no homes and no lives were lost.”

“What really could have been a tragic disaster for Horseshoe Bay was averted because of the preparation, training and response not only of our fire personnel, who were crucial and critical to containing the fire's forward progress, but also the city of Horseshoe Bay staff, from the mayor to the city manager to the police chief and all the other departments,” said Llano County emergency management coordinator Ron Anderson.

“Everyone involved in every way put forth an outstanding community effort and, somehow, we got through this without loss of life, without injuries and without the loss of any homes.”

The 310.8-acre fire began at 2 p.m. Saturday when a spark from a mulcher caused a fire along the Texas 71 right-of-way just inside the county line in Llano County, east of the Horseshoe Bay airport.

. . . .

By 7 p.m. Saturday, the fire was 20 percent contained and forward progression had been stopped, thanks to the presence of heavy equipment and resources from the Texas A&M Forest Service and local fire departments. Air operations coordinated through TFS included at least one helicopter, two single-engine air tankers (SEATs) and one air attack unit.

By 10 p.m., it was clear no one had been injured and no structures had been damaged in the fire and residents were released to return to their homes, though fire operations continued throughout the night. Both Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) and Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) examined their transmission lines in the area and did not report any significant damage.

By Sunday afternoon, the fire was 100 percent contained behind a fireline and crews from Horseshoe Bay Fire Department, Marble Falls Fire Rescue, Cassie VFD, Sandy Harbor VFD and Marble Falls VFD were mopping up the hot spots remaining.

However, the airport remained closed to fire personnel only and the Llano County Office of Emergency Management was warning people to stay away from the fire line due to hazards like falling trees. There is also cattle which has gotten loose both along Texas 71 and in some neighborhoods due to downed or cut fences. The cattle are looking for fresh water and green grass to graze. . . .

Read more about the Horseshoe Bay fire in the Tuesday Aug. 28 issue of The Highlander, on stands now.

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