Gov. Abbott Declares Bastrop County Wildfire a Disaster

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BASTROP COUNTY — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster Thursday in Bastrop County outside Austin, where a wildfire destroyed nine homes and raced across 4,200 acres, authorities said.

The Hidden Pines Fire threatens more than 150 homes, authorities said Thursday.

An undisclosed number of residents were evacuated Wednesday, but some were allowed to return to their homes Thursday, authorities said.

The fire was burning nearly uncontrollably and was 15% contained Thursday morning, the Texas Interagency Coordination Center website said.

North Texas fire departments -- Dallas, Ft. Worth, Arlington, Southlake, Frisco, and Greenville -- are now headed to help fight the Bastrop County fire.

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," the governor 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.

The governor referenced that 2011 fire during a press conference Thursday.

"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.