This has been a crazy couple of weeks for fires in central Texas. Labor Day weekend spawned several fires that turned out to be huge and hugely expensive although not in lives, fortunately. The Bastrop County fire ate up 34,000 acres and destroyed 1554 homes. The Riley Road Fire which included parts of Grimes, Montgomery and Waller Counties burned over 12,000 acres and destroyed over 50 homes. After two weeks of non-stop work by hundreds of mostly volunteer firefighters, both of these fires are mostly contained and all the people evacuated have been allowed back in to see what remains of their homes and property.
The Bastrop County Fire is about 70 miles northwest of me and the Riley Road Fire about 65 miles northeast of me. Both are close enough for some frayed nerves but not close enough to take pictures from my house. Labor Day weekend we had a fire much closer to us – maybe 6 or 8 miles – that burned about 1800 acres. It was put out pretty quickly although it was watched for several days to make sure all the hotspots were out. I could have gotten some great photos of the smoke plume but the whole thing was so frightening we were scrambling to hook up the horse trailer and not thinking about taking pictures. My fear in having to evacuate is that I can’t take all my animals in one trip. I can get four goats in the goat box that fits in the back of my truck. That’s half my goat herd. The horse trailer will carry all three ponies or all the llamas and alpacas. The other issue with evacuating is where would we go? The drought and heat and fire danger are so widespread in Texas that there isn’t really a safe place to go within reasonable driving distance. We would probably move the animals to my daughter Katy’s place south of Rosenberg. It’s over an hour drive from here but she has pastures that would take the animals. Two trips to Katy’s house would take over three hours assuming we could catch all the animals easily. The ponies are easy but the llamas and alpacas resist this procedure. It would probably take us 5 or 6 hours to get everyone rounded up, loaded up and moved. Some of the people in the Riley Road Fire had 5 minutes warning. Yup. It’s really scary.
Also during the last several weeks there have been other smaller fires that have been put out reasonably quickly. George Bush Park in west Houston lost something over 30 acres in what looks like arson. No homes or businesses were burned in that fire but the smoke plume was huge and everyone in west Houston and out to Simonton could see it and smell it.
What we really need is rain and lots of it. We have had about 11 inches of rain this year and should have had about 34 inches by this time. We are behind about 23 inches of rain. The record heat has abated to some extent which helps but we really need rain.