Judy Leek, 66, lives on 120 parched acres in an area known as Cedar Creek. For some time, the retired physicist said, residents were barred from watering their lawns more than five days a week.
"We've been in this horrible drought," she said Tuesday. "If you flicked a cigarette or a spark flew, you could start a fire."
On Monday, one finally ignited near Leek's Turkey Track Ranch.
The wind roared. Gray and white smoke clouded the sky. Ash rained down. Leek thought of the all the oaks and cedars on the property that flames could easily chew up.
"That's when I decided the horses had to go," she said. She had to leave two calves behind.
Tuesday saw a brief lull in gusts driven by Tropical Storm Lee this weekend, but fire crews were bracing for more dry winds and low humidity to fan fires on Wednesday.
Retirees Jack Hay, 69, and his wife, Linda, 73, were hoping to return to their home east of Bastrop this week.
They had left in such a hurry Sunday night, they were only able to grab two of their five dogs. On Tuesday, they joined evacuees streaming into the Bastrop County Convention Center, where packages of bottled water were piled high. Officials said pockets of fire in the neighborhood made it too dangerous to return.
The Hays were crestfallen.
"The house we're not too concerned about, but the animals —" Jack Hay said, his voice trailing off. "If it burned down, all the dogs go with it."
Photos: Texas wildfires
Times staff writer Stephen Ceasar in Los Angeles contributed to this report.