The Travis County Fire Marshal’s Office has ruled lightning as the cause of a 150-acre brush fire Sept. 27 that laid waste to set buildings from “The Alamo” off Hamilton Pool Road.
Lake Travis Fire Rescue and multiple responding agencies contained the fire Sept. 28 and controlled it Friday after it burned 150 acres.
“It destroyed ‘The Alamo’ set, but a lot of that was in ill repair,” LTFR Fire Chief Jim Linardos said of the 30 outbuildings lost.
No casualties were reported, and no houses were damaged.
Austin, North Hays County, Pedernales, Volente and Oak Hill fire departments, Travis County Sheriff’s Office, STAR Flight and Texas Forest Service all provided mutual aid.
Production crews shot “The Alamo” in 2003, which according to its DVD release was the largest and most expensive movie set built in North America. Disney’s Touchstone Pictures released the movie in 2004.
Storm clouds brought lightning and some rain to the area, but Linardos said the fire broke out in a virga condition, which occurs when precipitation falls but evaporates before it reaches the ground.
Authorities evacuated nearby Reimers Park. Hamilton Pool Preserve was closed at the time.
Linardos said parched trees and grasses are serving as fuels for wind-aided wildfires that continue to escalate in acreage burned with each incident the department has handled this fire season.
“We are used to having an average of 8 to 10 acres a year burn. We’re up to a thousand acres and some very challenging fires,” he explained. “We need people to really start preparing and take this seriously.”
For information on the International Fire Chiefs Association Ready Set Go program, visit www.wildlandFireRSG.org.
John Durham, LTFR assistant chief of fire prevention, said the department anticipates more red flag warning days if the area doesn’t get rain.
“We continue to remind the public we are in a pretty dire situation regarding wildfire risk,” Durham said.
Officials have expressed concerns that cooler temperatures might lead to a false sense of security among residents that fire risks have subsided.
Cold fronts from the north often bring stronger winds with them that intensify wildfires.
“Cooler does not necessarily mean there’s more moisture in the vegetation and there’s less fire risk,” Durham said. “We could be seeing critical fire-weather days, including red flag warning days, on through the fall and winter.”