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Residents get day pass to visit fire area

April 23, 2011 at 12:45 PM   |   Comments

FORT WORTH, Texas, April 23 (UPI) -- Authorities let residents of homes at Possum Kingdom Lake west of Fort Worth, Texas, back into their homes, although many found them reduced to ashes.

Homeowners in Gaines Bend, Sportsman World, Hills Above Possum Kingdom Lake and Hog Bend had just 8 hours Friday to pick up a few belongings and view the region's charred homes before they had to leave again, The Dallas Morning News reported Saturday.

"It is by no means safe," said John Bearer, a spokesman for the federal emergency team fighting the fires. "The fire threat is definitely still there. We will have to evacuate all over again if the situation changes very much from right now."

The clutch of fires burned nearly 150,000 acres and destroyed 160 homes and two churches, and the lack of power and the possibility for flare-ups prevented officials from letting residents back into the four subdivisions permanently.

Anthony Lewis, 32, was in the line of cars backed up on U.S. Highway 180 Friday waiting to get a glimpse of their homes. Some residents were lucky and found only minor damage, but Lewis wasn't among them.

Arriving at his family's lake house, Lewis was stunned. The house his late mother left him was reduced to rubble.

"I feel like I lost my mom again," Lewis said, digging through the ruins.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has asked for federal aid to help deal with the fires, which caused at least two deaths, CNN reported.

On Thursday, Perry issued a proclamation noting the more than 1.8 million acres burned by more than 8,000 blazes this fire season and calling for Texans to pray for rain.

"I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal and robust way of life," Perry said in the proclamation.

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