Yvonne Greene, 62, was visiting her elderly parents in Mico, northeast of the Medina Lake dam, Saturday when she stepped outside to get some kale from an outdoor refrigerator and was alarmed to see smoke billowing nearby.
“I thought, ‘That’s not just somebody barbecuing,’” Greene told the San Antonio Report Sunday morning. Greene noted that while her parents, Fred and Gladys Greene, 88 and 89, didn’t seem alarmed by the smoke at first, she was. She decided to call 911 and learned there was a voluntary evacuation underway in the area — one that later became mandatory.
“We started packing, but they didn’t really want to go; they were very reluctant,” Greene said.
Greene helped her parents evacuate their mobile home Saturday to Lakehills United Methodist Church, on the opposite side of the lake, where they listened to the service Sunday morning.
The Greenes were one of the many Medina County households that were ordered to evacuate over the past few days. As of Sunday, 40 homes were still actively under mandatory evacuation orders due to a growing wildfire in the county west of San Antonio. The blaze, which officials are calling the Das Goat Fire, was started by a burning vehicle Friday and has burned more than 1,000 acres, Medina County Emergency Manager Keith Lutz said during a press conference Sunday.
As of Sunday evening, the fire was 10% contained, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s InciWeb website. High winds contributed to its spread.
As of about 3 p.m. Sunday, three homes had been lost to the fire, but there had been no related injuries or casualties, Lutz said. With dry conditions expected to continue over the next few days, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for Medina County at the press conference Sunday in Castroville.
In addition to Medina County, state officials have declared disasters in Blanco, Brown, Brooks, Coleman, Comanche, Eastland, Grayson, Hood, Mason, Potter, Randall, Reynolds, Williamson and Starr counties due to a rapid spread of wildfires across the state, Abbott said.
“This disaster declaration accelerates the capabilities for Medina County to be able to respond to this disaster, and makes it available all the state resources that may be needed to respond to this,” Abbott said. “It adds to the other counties for which I’ve already declared a disaster, which altogether will go towards a potential request that we will be making to the federal government for a federal disaster declaration.”
About 200 firefighters from 19 agencies are “already involved in responding to this disaster,” Abbott said.
Five aircraft provided by the Texas National Guard, six bulldozers and three law enforcement agencies are assisting in the fight with approximately 30 personnel, he added. Those agencies are the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Parks and Wildlife.
It was unknown when all families will be able to return to their homes, although some were able to do so Saturday and Sunday, Lutz said.
San Antonio Fire Department spokesman Joe Arrington said the SAFD had contributed five brush trucks as of Sunday morning to help contain the blaze. Arrington was unsure how far the fire was from the Bexar County line, but he said local officials are watching the blaze closely.
Tearing up with worry as she listened to Abbott deliver the update Sunday afternoon from inside Rio Medina Fire Department Station 15, evacuee Sharon Tijerina said the hardest part of being away from her home was the waiting.
A resident of High Mountain Ranch in Rio Medina for 22 years, Tijerina worried about her black outdoor cat Spooky, who had run off as she was collecting her other pets Saturday. Tijerina is staying at a relative’s house with several friends until it’s safe for her to return home, she told the San Antonio Report.
“I love where we live. We are all a tightknit community,” Tijerina said. “The waiting is awful.”
Reporter Shari Biediger contributed to this report.