SAN ANTONIO — Approximately 2,800 acres have been burned at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bulls on the far northwest side, JBSA officials said, but the fire is 50% contained. Residents in two neighborhoods near the massive brush fire were asked to evacuate Saturday night.
The blaze started around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in the demolition range area, which is an active training area on the military base, officials said.
The Oak Ridge and Georg Oaks neighborhoods along Ammann Road were asked to leave as a precaution and are being allowed to seek shelter at Spring Branch Middle School in Comal County, but those evacuation notices have been lifted.
Although JBSA initially said the fire had destroyed 4,000 acres, that estimate was corrected, officials said in an update around 12:15 p.m. on Sunday.
"Initial estimates of 4,000 acres burned were corrected this morning with accurate GPS mapping. High winds are expected later today that will hamper containment efforts, but officials hope to contain the majority of the impact area and stop the fire from moving east towards Blanco/residential areas."
JBSA thanked the many agencies assisting by listing them in this post.
"JBSA fire crews worked through the night to contain the blaze and have changed shifts, with mutual aid partners starting to arrive. Aerial water drops have commenced again this morning. According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, crews conducted a tactical firing operation overnight to remove unburned vegetation between containment lines and the fire's edge, helping to secure those lines," JBSA said.
At 10:41 a.m., the Texas A&M Forest Service said, "The #TrainingArea23Fire in Bexar County is an estimated 2,803 acres and 40% contained. Aircraft are dropping water/retardant to help secure portions of the fire. Crews will be conducting tactical firing operations today to secure fireline. Smoke may be visible. #txfire"
"There have been no injuries, and no occupied buildings have been damaged. Service members training in the area have been pulled back to safe distances," JBSA said in a post on Facebook around 1 a.m. Sunday.
A new video taken from a vehicle driving alongside the fire was released at 5 a.m. on Sunday by the Leon Springs Fire Department. It shows an intense scene with flames raging in the darkness. The caption of the video simply reads, "The Leon Springs Beast. 5:00am and still at it."
Fire departments from across JBSA, Leon Creek, Bulverde, Shavano Park, Texas A&M Forest Service and several other agencies from the surrounding area are working to contain the fire.
Bryan Gonzalez shared a picture of the view of the fire from the backyard of a home in a nearby neighborhood. Huge flames can be seen in close proximity to several homes.
The San Antonio Fire Department said it "continues to provide mutual aid to JBSA... SAFD provided 8 wildland personnel overnight to provide advanced level wildland support, such as back burning, to help contain the spreading fire. The fire now is estimated to have burned over 4,000 acres. This morning SAFD received another request for mutual aid."
SAFD said it is sending the following assets to assist:
- 1 battalion chief
- 5 brush trucks
- 1 engine
- 1 medic officer
- 1 medical special operations unit (MSOU) with wildland medical personnel
- 1 medical all-terrain vehicle
- 1 wildland all-terrain vehicle
Heather Hill lives near Camp Bullis and has been keeping tabs on the fire throughout the weekend.
'[I'm] feeling extremely fortunate this is contained and it doesn't seem like it's in my backyard even though it technically could be," said Hill.
She knows others haven't been so lucky. Fire officials from Bulverde Spring Branch said 'quite a few families' used the evacuation site at Spring Branch Middle School on Saturday.
Officials did not have an official headcount but said evacuees were from the area north of Camp Bullis in Comal County. On Saturday, a voluntary evacuation order was issued for 150 residents.
The order has since been lifted and the evacuation site is closed.
"I definitely had some friends who have a ranch in the line of where the potential fire is going," said Hill.
Hill says she knew someone facing the tough decision to evacuate horses from a stable at a ranch nearby. She said the owners didn't after all, but are still watching closely as the fire continued on Sunday night.
Hill is optimistic things will turn out okay.
"I think our firefighters are doing an excellent job," she said.
Officials said crews continue to combat the fire into the overnight hours on Sunday.