Texas is burning – literally.
More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed in at least 57 wildfires across a very dry Texas – one of which is still raging out of control near Austin. This roaring blaze near Bastrop, Texas – about 25 miles from Austin – has decimated nearly 600 homes already. The Bastrop fire has been burning for four days, consuming more than 54 square miles and forcing more than 7,000 people to evacuate, but now is about 30 percent contained.
“Better weather allowing partial containment of Bastrop fire. Pushing for more federal assets (dozers/bladed equipment) to cut fire guards,” Gov. Rick Perry wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning.
“These fires are serious and widespread, and as mean as I have ever seen, burning more than 1,000 homes since this wildfire season began,” Perry said earlier.
Photos show a horrific picture of people trying to salvage their homes and property. In the past seven days Texas Forest Service has responded to 181 fires that have burned more than 118,400 acres, including new fires in Bastrop, Travis, Henderson, Limestone, Caldwell, Colorado, Montgomery and Grimes counties, and existing fires in Palo Pinto, Briscoe, Coryell and Montague counties. Since the beginning of wildfire season, local and state firefighters have responded to more than 20,900 fires that have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and burned more than 3.6 million acres; four people have died.
Fire has hit all but 50 to 100 acres of the pines covering the 6,000-acre Bastrop State Park. Meanwhile, police are searching for three teenagers wanted in connection with the wildfire in Leander, Texas, which caused $1.4 million in damage.
But there are many ways you can help the wildfire victims, even from afar – and social media is playing a vital role. The Austin American-Statesman has created a Facebook community page devoted to recovery and relief efforts. Meanwhile, a Texas woman has created a Facebook page dedicated to accepting donations, though not cash. Another Facebook fan page is dedicated to sharing helpful information and news on how to support the communities/people affected by the wildfires.
Twitter is also helping out. Local officials and residents are using Twitter to recruit volunteer fireman, share information for evacuees, and seek shelter for livestock displaced by the fires. Tweets offering helpful information on how and where to donate also abound, including these:
@goaliemom31 Tweets: EMERGENCY! PLEASE HELP! Austin, Texas wildfires out of control. Need FIREFIGHTERS: 512-978-1187 and horse transport: 512-467-4893
Austin Disaster Relief Network 512-331-2200
Accepting nonperishable food donations (canned meats, granola bars, peanut butter, bottled water) at 8201 S. Congress Ave., Austin, 78745 512-282-2111
Accepting monetary donations as well as items such as blankets, pillows, toiletries and medical supplies from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1817 E. Sixth St., Austin, and 7-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. at 6225 U.S. 290 East.
Call 2-1-1 for information about evacuations, shelter locations, school and road closures and resources for evacuees. Collecting donations.
Local NBC affiliate kxan also lists several groups accepting help and/or donations, including:
- Public Hotline 512-331-2200
- Fire Victim Relief Hotline 512-331-2600
For related stories on genConnect:
- Citizen Journalists Share Irene Videos on YouTube
- Hurricane Irene Documented Through Social Media Networks (Photos)
- Shauna Causey: How Voluntweetup Connects You to Non-Profits (VIDEO)
- Biz Stone & Evan Williams: The Positive Impact of Twitter (VIDEO)
- David Kirkpatrick: The Facebook Effect (VIDEO)
Want more genConnect?
- For more daily expert updates, follow genConnect on Twitter and Facebook.
- To stay on top of the latest contributions from experts: Sign Up for genConnect.
Share with us your thoughts in the comments box below.