As of Thursday morning, the Austin, Texas BMX scene seems to have escaped the direct effects of the wildfires affecting nearby Bastrop County in Texas, which to date has burned over 34,000 acres and destroyed nearly 1,400 homes in the Bastrop area, according to Bastrop County officials. But smoke from the nearby fires has arrived in the Austin area.
"All these fires near Austin are crazy," said X Games 17 BMX street competitor Aaron Ross, who lives in Austin. "Austin is now covered in smoke," he added. Ross stated via Twitter that his street in Austin was covered in smoke on Wednesday, and that he was looking to volunteer his services to those in need.
On Wednesday, Austin local and BMX photographer Sandy Carson, also reported smog from the fires and a distinct fire smell in the Austin area. Meanwhile the City of Austin warned residents via Twitter to stay inside due to "black smoke blowing into the city from wildfires surrounding Austin."
Nearby Bastrop County, located 30 miles East of Austin, suffered greatly. According to Victoria Koenig, spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service, the Bastrop County fire has destroyed 1,368 homes, and has killed at least two people. Over 5,000 people have been evacuated from Bastrop County due to the wildfires.
Bastrop County, home to an assortment of abandoned pools and riding spots, has served as an escape from Austin for the BMX media frenzy of the past ten years. Pools and riding spots throughout the area have appeared in seminal BMX videos such as etnies "Forward," Mutiny's "Stoked on Being Pumped," Empire BMX's "Chill Bro" and even some of the early Homeless Bikes videos from the early '90s.
In a press briefing this morning at the Bastrop Convention Center, county emergency management coordinator Mike Fisher said the fire was 30 percent contained. But the BMX scenes in Austin and Bastrop County aren't in the clear yet. According to Empire BMX's Tom Williams, "Some people in the scene have possibly lost their homes. It's not confirmed yet. They're not letting people inside the perimeter."
Austin, Texas serves as home to countless BMX pros including Aaron Ross, Chase Hawk, Tom Dugan and Joe Rich, as well as BMX brands Terrible One, Full Factory Distribution, Empire BMX and Mutiny. The city has been a hub of BMX activity since the late '80s and continues to attract an international array of BMX visitors each year.