NATIONAL NEWS

Hundreds flee, building destroyed as grass fire spreads to trees near Texas apartments

Aug 9, 2023, 4:38 AM | Updated: 11:38 am

CEDAR PARK, Texas (AP) — A grass fire near Austin, Texas, spread into trees near an apartment complex and condominiums, destroying one of the buildings and forcing hundreds of residents from their homes.

Two people suffered minor injuries in the 50-acre (20-hectare) fire that resulted in the evacuation of about 300 apartments, 95 townhomes and several businesses in Cedar Park, on the northern edge of Austin, Fire Chief James Mallinger said Wednesday.

One apartment building was destroyed and three others damaged, according to Cedar Park Mayor Jim Penniman-Morin.

“It could have been much, much worse,” Penniman-Morin said.

The cause of the fire, reported early Tuesday evening, was not yet known, Mallinger said.

It started as a grass fire and encroached on buildings by going from grass to trees, the chief said. Flames shot up to 60 feet (18 meters) high.

“The trees were very close to the building … even touching the roof in a couple of cases,” Mallinger said. The wind moved the fire quickly around the apartment and condo complexes, then crossed a road, where its progress was stopped.

The fire was about 60% contained, and firefighters planned to remain at the scene Wednesday, according to Mallinger.

Residents of the three damaged buildings were being allowed to return Wednesday with help from firefighters, but the destroyed building was too unsafe to enter, Mallinger said.

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Hundreds flee, building destroyed as grass fire spreads to trees near Texas apartments