Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where there's smoke

While we were in South Padre, I kept getting news alerts on my phone about wildfires in Central Texas. Sadly to say, this is so common right now I didn't think much of it. If you're not in Texas, you probably don't realize what a miserable summer we're having. We've had 80 days of triple digit heat, which broke a previous record of 69. The weekend before last, temperatures reached 110 and 112, tying the record for the hottest it's ever been in Austin. While we usually have 30 inches of rain, this year we've had a scant 8. Everyone has been on strict water restrictions and there's been a few energy scares as we try not to overload the system with demands for energy.

So basically it's very hot. And dry.

Then Sunday, a cold front moved into the area. Bringing cooler temperatures, thankfully, lower humidity, and some fierce 40 mph winds. Perfect for fires.

And they started springing up everywhere. And they've gotten bad. Check out this video from Texas Parks & Wildlife to see how fast it's moving.

The largest one is just down the road from us in Bastrop. We pass through there every time we go to Houston. Last time I checked, the fire was 20 miles wide and 24 miles long. It has burned nearly 35,000 acres and, at last count, over 700 homes. Thousands of people have been displaced and are still waiting to go home, or to see if they have a home to go to. Fires have also spring up, north, northwest, and west of where we live. Thankfully, there have only been two reported fatalities so far. Firefighters have been working around the clock to try and bring the fires under control.

Photo from Elgin Fire Department
As we were driving back from South Padre on Monday, we stopped in San Antonio for dinner. As we got out of the car, the smell of burning wood was over powering and we could already see smoke and ash in the air. Today, Austin is blanketed in smoke and ash. It's gross. And dreary.

Please say some prayers for those who have lost their homes, for those who are still displaced, and for all those very brave men and women who are still trying to stop these dangerous fires. If you're inclined to help, check out this facebook page setup by the Austin American-Statesman (way to go, guys!) to see what you can do.

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