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Wildfire Benefit Tonight, McCaul Blasts Federal Response

Firefighters putting out hot spots last month in Bastrop County
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News
Firefighters putting out hot spots last month in Bastrop County

Want to help Central Texas wildfire victims and hear “On the Road Again” performed by the Red Headed Stranger himself? A fundraiser tonight at the Frank Erwin Center will feature Willie Nelson, George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Lyle Lovett and Asleep at the Wheel.

Also on the stage will be Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Christopher Cross, the Texas Tornados, Randy Rogers and Terri Hendrix.

Tickets range from $25 to $250 and all proceeds will be spread to local organizations through the Austin Community Foundation’s Central Texas Wildfire Fund.

Wildfires destroyed homes in communities including Leander, Steiner Ranch, Spicewood and Oak Hill this year.  The most destructive wildfire in Texas history razed 1,500 homes in Bastrop County last month.

That 34,000 acre fire was the subject of a hearing today by U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin). He brought his Congressional committee to the Texas State Capitol this morning to blast the federal government’s response to the state’s wildfires.

"The lack of an immediate response from [federal] aircraft assets caused significant delays in fighting the fires in Bastrop County, where more than 1,500 homes were destroyed, and lives lost,” McCaul said, according to KXAN. The TV station said he called that “inexcusable and unacceptable."

McCaul is considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). A new poll out today suggests that race is firming up into a two way race between Texas Lieutenant-Governor David Dewhurst and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz.

The National Weather Service is forecasting wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour tomorrow, which will cause a “near critical fire weather threat on Tuesday.” The special weather statement urges people not to do anything that could spark a fire, like parking a car over dry grass or tossing cigarette butts on the ground. 

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.