GRIMES COUNTY, Texas More mandatory evacuations were ordered Monday afternoon as a wildfire southwest of Plantersville in Grimes County grew to 5,000 acres.
The evacuation orders now include over 36,000 acres and 1,800 homes and businesses.
The areas include: the Shadow Lakes Subdivision; Pine Brook Subdivision; all homes along CR 202, CR 201, Urbanosky Lane and adjoining roadways; homes along CR 302 from FM 1774 to FM 362; FM362 northward to CR 306; CR 306 eastward to Spur 234 and northward to Highway 105; Highway 105 eastward to FM 1774; areas to the east and west of CR 304, north of CR 302, east of CR 362, south of CR 306, west of CR 1774 and south of Highway 105.
Shelters were set up at Navasota High School and the First Baptist Church of Magnolia.
The Texas Renaissance Festival property had to close its shelter because it s now in the path of the fire. Gina Rotolo, with TRF, said the flames were still two to three miles behind them late Monday afternoon, but the Forest Service didn t want to take any chances.
Livestock will be moved to the Navasota Auction Barn, according to the TRF Facebook page.
High winds with gusts up to 30 mph continued to push the blaze, known as the Dyer Mill fire, to the northwest Monday as scores of firefighters worked to contain it. The TFS said the fire was sparked by an ember from a backyard grill just south of Stoneham and southwest of Plantersville.
The fire less than 10 percent contained as of 5 p.m. Monday, the Texas Forest Service said.
Dozens of homes and buildings have already been destroyed by the fire, and many more were in danger.
Near Todd Mission, south of Plantersville, drivers lined the rural county road Monday as they waited for an evacuation order to be lifted.
The public was being warned that additional evacuations could come with little to no advance warning. The TFS also said those living within the smoke zone of the fire should be on standby to evacuate.
Jerome Seeberger, who owns 40 acres in Grimes County, described the scene as apocalyptic.
I ve never seen anything like this. Such a beautiful forest two days ago, and look at it now, he said as he walked through charred trees.
All he could do over the weekend was pray that the fire didn t destroy his barn, where his mule and seven goats live.
I called my sister and we prayed together that it wouldn t hurt my animals or my structure here, he said.
Fortunately, those prayers were answered. His barn was spared, but the danger was still all around him.
We had spotting of embers that went as far as half a mile out yesterday and we could have an ever greater distance with the stronger winds today, firefighter Gene Phillips said.
That guy who caused this fire, there s not much to say about him, Seeberger said.
Now he and other Grimes County residents are just praying for rain and lots of it.
Meanwhile, the TFS said all residents who are forced to evacuate their homes should stop by one of the shelters and leave their name, phone number and address, so emergency personnel can contact them when it s safe to come back home.
As of Monday, there were reports of at least one civilian injury. That person was pinned between two fire trucks Sunday and transported to a medical facility in Grimes County. The condition of the injured civilian was not known.
Donations for fire victims were being accepted at the Red Cross Website. Click here for more info. Non-monetary donations can be dropped off at the First Baptist Church in Navasota from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Those who need to shelter livestock can do so at Mid Tex Livestock on Highway 90 South. Call John Adkins at 979-482-2018 or Bernard Lee at 936-825-5295 for more information.