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Jan. 18 marks one year since the start of a Bastrop County wildfire that burned more than 800 acres

The Rolling Pines Fire, which officials believe started as a prescribed burn, led the Texas Parks and Wildlife to adopt more protocols for such burns.

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas — Wednesday, Jan. 18, marks one year since a wildfire at Bastrop State Park burned through more than 800 acres of land. 

The Rolling Pines Fire started on Jan. 18, 2022, and was declared 100% contained on Jan. 24. The fire forced hundreds of families to evacuate their home as a precaution, but they were allowed to return after a day. 

Officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) believed that the fire might have started with embers escaping from a prescribed burn area. Days after the fire was contained, officials announced the selection of an independent panel to review the circumstances and cause of the fire. 

Officials wanted to know why the prescribed burn took place even though the Texas A&M Forest Service warned about increased wildfire danger on the day the fire was started.

A prescribed burn requires low humidity for the fire to burn at a steady pace and winds of no less than 6 mph to move the fire across the designated area while pushing smoke away from urban areas. At the time the Rolling Pines fire began, the National Weather Service was reporting winds in the Austin area between 15 to 25 mph with gusts between 30 and 40 mph. 

A burn ban was not in effect for Bastrop County on Jan. 18, the day the fire started.

In March 2022, the TPWD announced that, following the independent review of the Rolling Pines fire, the department would implement new procedures for future prescribed burns. Among those was requiring bulldozers on the fireline with firefighters before a fire begins and requiring vehicle operators to attend pre-fire safety briefings with the burn team.

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the Texas A&M Forest Service said that a prescribed burn is underway at Camp Swift in Bastrop County. A Red Flag Warning for fire weather conditions is in effect for Travis, Williamson, Hays, Burnet, Gillespie, Llano and Mason counties Wednesday afternoon. Bastrop County is not included in the warning.

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