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Homeless man arrested in Texas wildfire

AUSTIN, Texas, April 18 (UPI) -- A homeless man was arrested in an Austin, Texas, wildfire that burned 100 acres and destroyed 11 homes, police said Monday.

Michael Weathers, 60, was in the Travis County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail on arson charges, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

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Weathers told police Sunday he started a campfire but left it unattended to walk to a convenience store, his arrest affidavit states.

Officials said 11 homes were destroyed and 10 others damaged.

The fire was only about half contained Monday morning, a fire official said, and nine fire companies remain on the scene.

In Hardin County in southeastern Texas, about 7,000 acres have burned in a wildfire that began Saturday, KPRC-TV in Houston reported Monday.

The state forest service and volunteer firefighters have been using bulldozers, Army Blackhawk helicopters and trucks to stem the blaze, which was about 60 percent contained Sunday night.

Texas is a tinderbox, with burning bans in place for 195 of the 254 counties, the forest service said.

Gov. Rick Perry asked President Barack Obama Sunday to declare the state a major disaster area, as fires have struck or threaten all but two counties. Texas has recorded 7,807 fires that have burned 1.53 million acres and destroyed 244 homes since the wildfire season started, Perry said.

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