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Latest on massive wildfire in Washington County: still burning, but more contained

Two homes lost, 13 households evacuated
Posted at 9:00 PM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 23:47:39-04

BURTON, Texas — Flare-ups re-igniting scorched earth are just one of the battles firefighters faced in Washington county on Monday.

As of 4 p.m. Monday afternoon, the Burns Creek fire was last reported to be 400 acres in size and 60% contained.

The fire first started Sunday afternoon in the community of Burton, near the Washington County shores of Lake Somerville. So far no deaths or major injuries have been reported, but two homes have been lost, and a dozen others were evacuated.

Roy and Jean Dueitt, residents of Burton on the lake, have been through plenty in their 70 years of marriage. They’ve already lost two homes in Houston to floods over several decades. And now, their lakeside property of over 20 years has been singed by the major grass fire.

“The vinyl siding [to our house] has been blistered and we lost some outbuildings," Roy Dueitt said. "– barn, boat house.”

Thankfully, the couple were able to evacuate with their important papers and necessary medications but left too quickly to grab sentimental items. The Dueitts are two of several people around Schulenberg Lane told to evacuate, staying the night with neighbors and wearing the same clothes two days in a row.

The community of Burton, with charities like the Burton Bridge Ministries, has reached out to those affected with support by offering food, clothing, and other resources.

"People started calling us, and we loaded up Gatorade," said Vel Ann Clifton, volunteer coordinator. "Burton Short Stop, the café, they donated sandwiches ... and if anybody needs help with clothes or furniture, or meals, we deliver meals.”

Firefighters continue to investigate specifically where and what caused the start of the fire and fight the flames with everything from bulldozers to airplanes.

“Most of what we’ve got out here is actually wildlife," said Chief Tim Hamff, incident commander for the Burns Creek fire. "The folks out here that did have animals – the community really came together along with some of the state and local services that actually assisted in moving the locals’ animals out.”

Nearly 400 acres is a lot of destruction. But as strong as those flames have been, the people of Washington County are stronger.

"We’re tough!” Roy Dueitt said.

The Bridge Ministries ask that anyone needing assistance related to fire damage or displacement contact them by calling 830-998-5366 or emailing burtonbridgeoffice@gmail.com.

"We’re tough old people!" Jean agrees. "The old couple, the old people that live down the road are tough old people.”