Nature has played a cruel, cruel trick on us. The tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico that forecasters said might bring us rain, has instead brought gusty winds. When mixed with tinder dry brush, high temperatures, low humidity – disaster.
Major fires are rampaging all over Central Texas (and other areas), including the most horrendous, in Bastrop. As of this morning, 14,000 acres burned, 350 homes destroyed or damaged, near half of Bastrop State Park charred.
We live in the middle of a cedar/live oak thicket that has been deprived of moisture for almost a year. Even those tough cedar trees are wilting now. Those of us who live out here are fearful. To add to that sense of unease, our subdivision has only one exit – for over 200 homes distributed down little winding roads tucked under trees.
I made frequent trips upstairs yesterday to scan the horizon with my binoculars. I’m afraid we might not have much time to get out if a fire comes roaring toward us from the north. I also ventured outside often to sniff for smoke.
We hosted a small party last night. About 4 p.m., it dawned on me that we would be lighting a barbecue for hamburgers. One of my neighbors helped me wet down the ground around the pit (which sits on a rock patio), telling me about the time she burned 300 acres of neighboring ranch land, when she left a trash fire unattended for a few moments.
During the course of the evening, another friend received notification that friends of his had lost their home in the Bastrop fire. And the air filled with smoke from a fire burning north of us in Dripping Springs.
Today is forecasted to be even worse, as a cool front adds its might to the hurricane gusts. The fires from yesterday are not out. Firefighters are maxed out, without enough manpower to stop the flames.
Send good thoughts.