Hays County Landlord Recalls Smoke Rider Fire Experience

Texas A&M Forest Service officials said the Smoke Rider Fire in Blanco County, near Hays County, was 60% contained Wednesday afternoon.

The fire, which broke out around noon on Tuesday, was only 30% contained by Wednesday morning.

“It came very quickly, and it was so messy you really couldn’t see anything,” owner Ed Vaughan said.

Vaughan estimates around 40 of his 100-acre property burned in the blaze.

“You couldn’t see 100 or 200 yards in front of you, but there were helicopters picking up water from my tank working in this area – working on my property here for probably an hour and a half and all you can say, it’s ‘Thank God for the guys that were here.'”

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Vaughan put out the fire in his house with his dog. The structure remained intact.

“Prepare for fire. Be careful with fire,” he stressed.

Vaughan worked at the Henly Volunteer Fire Department for several years after 9/11, where he learned how to protect buildings from fires. “One of the things they’ll teach you right away is to build a perimeter,” he said. “Make sure you don’t have brush near a house.”

Walter Flocke of the Texas A&M Forest Service said crews across the country were working on the roughly 800-acre fire. “We use heavy equipment and aviation resources to achieve total containment,” he explained.

On Wednesday afternoon, three residential structures and an occupied trailer were destroyed in the blaze, officials said.

“I have nothing to complain about,” Vaughan said. “Thank God for the [firefighters] who are here, they’ve done a, you know, a hell of a job.”

Flocke said firefighters have yet to determine the cause of the blaze, but stressed they don’t believe it was natural.

“We can spell natural causes, there was no lightning anywhere in the area yesterday,” he said.

Earnest L. Veasey