Hundreds Flee, Building Destroyed as Grass Fire Spreads to Trees Near Texas Apartments

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
August 10, 2023US News
Hundreds Flee, Building Destroyed as Grass Fire Spreads to Trees Near Texas Apartments
Fire crews and safety officials respond to a grass fire that forced evacuations in Cedar Park, Texas, on Aug. 8, 2023. (Sara Diggins/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

CEDAR PARK, Texas—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 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,” Mr. Penniman-Morin said.

The cause of the fire, reported early Tuesday evening, was not yet known, Mr. 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 high.

“The trees were very close to the building … even touching the roof in a couple of cases,” Mr. 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 percent contained, and firefighters planned to remain at the scene Wednesday, according to Mr. 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, Mr. Mallinger said.

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