Bastrop wildfire now 30 percent contained

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by ANDREW HORANSKY

KVUE News

Posted on September 7, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 7 at 11:31 PM

BASTROP, Texas -- Two people have been killed in a massive wildfire in Bastrop that has destroyed 785 homes. The Texas Forest Service said Wednesday morning that the fire is now 30 percent contained.

Bastrop County officials released the name of one of the victims killed. They say Michael Troy Farr, an employee of the City of Austin, was killed in his home in Smithville. Farr worked in Building Services in the finance and administration department.

The second victim remains unidentified but was discovered Tuesday several miles from Farr.

Officials said that safety is their main concern. They say residents have been trying to return to their homes and are jumping over police barricades. Because of power lines and trees being down, as well as helicopters pouring water on the area, officials are urging residents to stay put and to cooperate with police.

Schools in Bastrop have been closed for the rest of the week. The district's superintendent says it plans to tentatively open on Monday. The district is urging parents to contact them for help, and to confirm their whereabouts.

Bluebonnet Electric officials say they have crews heading to the fire zone, working to restore power. They say the restoration process will begin Thursday. They added that they will post restoration times for each home on their website starting Thursday morning.

The Texas Forest Service said Wednesday morning that fire had scorched almost 34,000 acres since it started on Sunday. Twenty neighborhoods were evacuated.

A list with confirmed addresses of homes destroyed or damaged was posted Wednesday on the doors of the Bastrop Convention Center. It can also be found on Bastrop County's website. (Note: The site is seemingly overwhelmed and often takes a while to load.)

The Texas Forest Service told KVUE that the path of destruction left by the larger Bastrop fire is close to 26 miles long and 20 miles at its widest point.

The news was a little better in southwestern Bastrop County in the community of Union Chapel, where a 912-acre brush fire was 99 percent contained. Twenty-seven homes in the Union Chapel area were lost.

State Highway 21 West to Highway 71 is now reopened. Residents in the Hobbs Creek and Marnes Meadow neighborhoods can return home.

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