Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fire hot spots in Texas keep thousands from homes

Andrew DeMillo in the Associated Press: Fire crews made progress Saturday fighting a huge central Texas wildfire but concerns over still smoldering hot spots kept thousands of residents from returning home. Tensions flared during a news conference as some residents shouted questions at county officials, demanding to know when they could return to their homes in the Bastrop area, about 30 miles east of Austin.

Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald said officials hope to get residents back as soon as possible, but he didn't know how long that would take. "This is day seven, tensions are high," McDonald said.

Texas is in the midst of its worst wildfire outbreak in state history. A perilous mix of hot temperatures, strong winds and a historic drought spawned the Bastrop-area fire, the largest of the nearly 190 wildfires the state forest service says erupted last week, killing four people, destroying more than 1,700 homes and forcing thousands to evacuate.

Around the city of Bastrop, the fire has destroyed nearly 1,400 homes and swept across about 45 square miles of rain-starved landscape…

The Bambi Bucket attached to a Ch-47 Helicopter from the 2-149th, Texas National Guard, dumps water on a blaze nearing property. Texas National Guard crews launched out of the Austin Army Aviation Facility to fight wild fires threatening homes and property near Bastrop, Texas, September 6, 2011. Photo by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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