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Firefighters hope to have tri-county fire contained

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
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The wildfire in the three-county area of Montgomery, Waller and Grimes counties is still burning, but the situation appears to be improving.

The Texas Forest Service said the tri-county fire was 85 percent contained on Monday and they hope to have it fully contained Tuesday. Montgomery County officials have crews out looking for fires and heavy equipment widening the fire breaks, but there are no fires of immediate concern right now.

Approximately 18,960 acres total have been destroyed: Waller County 10,604; Montgomery County 6,445; and Grimes County 1,909.

Several fire crews have been released from duty. The heavy equipment remains on site in case of flare ups.

So far, 76 structures have been destroyed and 23 have been damaged. The majority of losses were in Waller County. In Montgomery County, seven homes were destroyed and one damaged. Multiple out-buildings, such as sheds, were damaged.

Officials say they are seeing continued improvement in efforts to get the blaze under control, but fire danger remains elevated and flare-ups can occur at any time, especially if the wind picks up and the current weather trends continue.

TUESDAY DEVELOPMENTS

  • The Red Cross is preparing to close its main emergency shelter by noon on Wednesday.
  • Hotel and gas vouchers are available at St. John's Lutheran Church on 1613 Key Street in Waller. They are also available at the Tegler building, which used to be the Lawrence Marshall car dealership on 900 Business 290 in Hempstead. Remember to bring your ID and any other information regarding your financial status.
  • Brazos Valley Community Action Agency was handing out hotel vouchers at Wildwood Methodist Church in Magnolia to residents of all three counties earlier Tuesday. Residents are encouraged to bring as much documentation as possible like your ID, proof of income, etc.

  • As of 8am Tuesday, FM 1488 is OPEN for through traffic. If a road was not specifically stated as being opened in our announcement on Monday, it is STILL NOT OPEN. Bowler to Joseph specifically ALL cross roads and side roads north and south of FM 1488 are still closed.

  • The following streets will be open at 5:00 pm Monday. This would include businesses on FM 1488 west of Bowler Road.

  • OPEN Fieldstore Road from FM 1488 south to Joseph and Joseph Road from Fieldstore Road East to Hegar Road. FM 1488 from Fieldstore Road east to Hegar Road. Joseph Road North to Country Lane Estates. (Everything north of the intersection of Joseph Road and Country Lane Road (East and West) will be remain CLOSED)

  • The following streets will be OPEN: Pinewood Valley, Hargrave, All of Country Lane East, All of Country Lane West, Oak Hollow up to Rolling Hills, Cherry Hill, Walnut Hill, Fox Hollow, Deer Brook, Brook Hollow, Bent Wood, Cedar Hill, Ashley, Lake View, Brook Hollow Ct., Lake Forest Blvd.

  • The remainder of Oak Hollow and Country Lane Estates will REMAIN EVACUATED.

  • FEMA will step in to provide long-term temporary housing for people who lost their homes. Emergency hotel vouchers good for up to 7 days will also be available to fire victims.

  • The Brazos Valley Community Action Agency is in the process of trying to acquire gift cards from Walmart and gas station, in order to be able to hand them out as "flexible assistance cards" to people displaced by fires.

MONDAY DEVELOPMENTS

  • Fire crews expect to have the blaze 100 percent contained by Tuesday.

  • On Tuesday, the Brazos Valley Community Action will give out flexible assistance cards that fire victims can use to cover essential expenses.

  • The hotel/motel voucher program that was limited to Bastrop will soon be made available for fire victims in Montgomery, Waller and Grimes county. Details to come.

  • Grimes County officials say the Texas Forest Service now shows the Riley Road fire to be the No. 3 priority fire in Texas and the nation. The blaze had burned nearly 19,000 acres as of Sunday night, but that is less than the 21,000 authorities originally thought were affected. According to the Texas Forest Service report, no additional acreage was lost in the past 24 hours.

  • All roads have reopened in Montgomery County. Officials expect those that are open only to residents to reopen to everyone by the end of the day. The command center at Magnolia West High School is slowly shutting down.

  • In Waller County, the following streets are now open. This would include businesses on FM 1488 west of Bowler Road.
  • Fieldstore Road from FM 1488 south to Joseph and Joseph Road from Fieldstore Road East to Hegar Road.
  • LFM 1488 from Fieldstore Road east to Hegar Road.
  • Joseph Road North to Country Lane Estates. (Everything north of the intersection of Joseph Road and Country Lane Road (East and West) will be remain CLOSED)
  • The remaining areas and roadways that have been closed will REOPEN today at 12:00 PM. These include FM 1774 and FM 1486. FM 1486 will be open to residents only and identification will be required.
  • Returning residents should remain cautious and remember the burned areas can contain hazards. Trees and tree limbs can fall without notice. Stay alert and take appropriate precautions.

SHELTERS

Human shelters

  • Montgomery County: Wildwood Methodist Church at 8911 F.M. 1488, Magnolia
  • Grimes County: Grimes County Expo Center
  • Waller County: First Baptist Church in Hempstead at 5th and Main Street
  • Magnolia, Waller and Grimes Counties: The Knights of Columbus Hall, 900 Mack Washington in Hempstead
  • Red Cross shelter at St Johns Lutheran Church in Waller, 1613 Key Street -- 936-372-2903
  • Ron's Relay shelter for people and animals: 36009 Howell Rd. in Waller -- 979-921-0771
  • An Additional Red Cross Shelter is set up at the West Montgomery County Community Development Center, 31355 Friendship in Magnolia. Small animals can be brought with evacuees as long as they are brought with kennels and leashes. The owner must stay with the pet.

Animal shelters

  • The shelter in Grimes County is at the Grimes County Expo Center and Fairgrounds, 5220 F.M. 3455 in Navasota.
  • The Waller County Fairgrounds are at capacity for taking in animals for shelter. No more animals are being accepted. Officials are opening overflow facilities at the Old Hockley Auction Barn. Strays will not be accepted at this facility. All livestock and other animals left at the fairgrounds will be moved to Old Hockley Auction Barn by next week because of the Waller County Fair in two weeks. If you are needing to evacuate animals or donate feed or animal supplies, please go to the Auction Barn, 36296 Business 290E in Hockley.
  • A mobile vet clinic has been set up at Baker Vet Clinic in Waller County as well as tent hospitals for animals. Reports of mass euthanasia are false. Baker Vet Clinic is located at 21002 Briarmeadow Dr. in Prairie View. Strays are welcome. If you had to evacuate and need your animals fed, please contact Baker Vet Clinic as well to seek assistance. They also need donations of cat food, dog food, cat litter and food and drinks for the volunteers.
  • Montgomery County Animal Shelter said that strays are brought in are only held for four days and then put up for adoption. So, if you have a displaced pet, please check there first: 936-442-7738
  • Magnolia Arena on Friendship Lane is available for horses and show animals.
  • The Wharton County Youth Fair in Crescent, Texas is accepting evacuated livestock and folks in RVs. For more information, contact the Wharton County Youth Fair at 979-677-3350.
  • Texas Blessings Animal Rescue has trailers to help move livestock to safety if needed. Wharton County Fairgrounds and Brackenridge at Edna are offering stalls and RV hookups for displaced animals and their owners. Please call us day or night if you need emergency help. (361) 588-2143
  • Sam Houston Race Park has offered stalls to anyone who needs them, you will need to bring your own bedding, buckets, feed, hay and webbing for the front of the stall. Call 281-807-8700 to arrange for someone to open the gate.
  • Tula Bird Rescue of Houston is taking birds at their locations. Call 713-384-3714 or 281-753-7251 for information.
  • Ron's Relay shelter for people and animals: 36009 Howell Rd. in Waller -- 979-921-0771
  • Cypress and Tomball Banfield Pet Hospitals are taking evacuated animals for boarding. Please call other Houston clinics to confirm availability.
  • Phone bank for all things animal-related in Waller County (injuries, lost, found, feeding, donations, volunteers, shelters, etc.): 832-544-2834, 281-889-0122, 281-889-1617.

EVACUATED NEIGHBORHOODS

Montgomery Co.
The following subdivisions and streets in Montgomery County are currently evacuated and remain closed to any re-entry until further notice: F.M. 1774 from F.M. 1486 to the Waller County Line and F.M. 1486 from F.M. 1774 north to Jackson Road.

Grimes Co.
The following areas/streets continue to be under mandatory evacuation orders previously issued for Grimes County: Plantation Lakes (off Riley Road) and Saddle Creek Subdivision (off Riley Road).

Waller Co.
The remainder of Oak Hollow and Country Lane Estates will REMAIN EVACUATED. Please remember this will be the only change in evacuation until an update on Tuesday, September 13, 2011. There is currently a discussion between local and state officials in regards to some type of opening of FM 1488 from Bowler Road East to the Waller County Line for pass through only.

SCHOOL CLOSINGS/DELAYS

Magnolia ISD will re-open all campuses to classes on Monday, September 12. The district is mindful that some of students and staff are still displaced and may not be able to return at this time. Students who are unable to return will be excused. If necessary, further details will be posted at www.magnoliaisd.org.

Waller ISD will open all campuses as well.

FOR QUESTIONS ON EVACUATIONS, ETC: DO NOT CALL 911 for evacuation, road closures, general or fire information. The 911 system should be used for actual emergencies.

For information, call:

  • Montgomery County: 936-523-3900, you can also follow their Twitter feed for any updates
  • Grimes County: 936-873-2151, you can also check their Facebook page for any updates
  • Waller County: 979-826-8282

DONATIONS/VOLUNTEERING

Waller County donations:

  • Waller County Disaster Distribution Center is at Old Lawrence Marshall Building, now called Tiegler. Address is 900 Business, 290 North, Hempstead, Texas 979-826-7745.

  • For others looking to donate or volunteer, here is more information:

    United Way:

    • All donations should be coordinated through the United Way at 281-292-4155 x 265.
    • United Way is taking in-kind and financial donations at HelpOurCounty.org. Click on Donate Goods.
    • To volunteer, go to HelpOurCounty.org, click on Volunteers and search for Fire 2011.

    Red Cross:

    Salvation Army:

    • Monetary donations to support Salvation Army Disaster Services can be made by:
    • MAIL -- Please send checks to The Salvation Army, PO Box 36607, Dallas, TX 75235
    • PHONE at 1-800-SAL-ARMY
    • ONLINE at www.salvationarmytexas.org

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