WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas — The Williamson County Office of Emergency Management said Saturday evening that all evacuees asked to leave their homes due to the wildfire are now allowed to return.
Williamson County authorities first reported a 100-acre fire in Liberty Hill early Saturday afternoon. That fire has since burned through 456 acres – a reduction from the estimate of 500 acres due to better mapping – and was 100% contained as of 10:45 p.m. Wednesday. The Texas A&M Forest Service tweeted that the forward progression of the fire had been stopped.
On Monday, the forest service said it expects the fire to remain active at least a couple more days as fire crews see hotspots pop up.
Crews were mopping up and improving the containment line as of Saturday afternoon. The forest service said air resources have assisted in cooling the perimeter and are reinforcing the line with retardant.
Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said Sunday that 12 DC-10 loads of retardant and 50 loads of water had been dumped in the area.
"I know that it’s been a great inconvenience for Lake Georgetown to be closed, but this is about protecting lives and property, and we appreciate everyone’s patience while crews work diligently to put out this fire. Crews will work overnight, as well as tomorrow as needed," he said.
The fire started on Tower Road near Lake Georgetown. That's northeast of State Highway 29 and Highway 183. The Georgetown Fire Department later confirmed that the fire had spread across the lake. The Texas A&M Forest Service is calling it the San Gabriel Fire.
Residents within a two-mile radius of the fire were evacuated. Santa Rita Middle School was set up as a shelter for those being evacuated. The City of Liberty Hill said more than 1,600 residents were notified of the fire and 200 homes were evacuated.
Lake Georgetown and the trails around the lake were closed for recreational use. They were deemed safe on Wednesday.
The Georgetown Fire Department, the Liberty Hill Fire Department and the Texas A&M Forest Service are responding along with Travis County STAR Flight and other surrounding departments. A total of 22 agencies responded with nine aircraft and at least two helicopters.
"Over the next 24 hours to possibly days, crews are going to continue to remain on this fire, watching for any heat, watching for any smoke and mitigating any of those hotspots," said Texas A&M Forestry Service spokesperson Walter Flocke.
No injuries or structure damage was reported. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"I'm not an expert on cost of fires, but I can tell you this, between the local resources that we've had and the crews that have come in from across the country, I could see where this would easily be a $1 million price tag to fight this fire," Gravel said on Monday.
Gravel said in a brief update that he will look into enhancing the burn ban already in place and adding more restrictions.
"I've got to tell you, flying through this one and when you can see that you're just 300 or 400 yards from several subdivisions in Georgetown and 300 or 400 yards from Santa Rita Ranch, we were fortunate," he said. "We were fortunate because of good firefighters and great pilots."
For a map of wildfire activity across Texas, click here.
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