Wildfires rage in Texas

Sept. 6, 2011 at 12:56 PM
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BASTROP, Texas, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people were forced out of their homes Tuesday as wildfires still burned in central Texas.

Two fires in Bastrop County southeast of Austin remained totally uncontained, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Melissa Yunis, a spokeswoman for the state Forest Service, said the Bastrop County fire had grown to close to 29,000 acres, while the smaller Union Chapel fire had charred 750 acres.

She said the main fire was about 2 miles from the Bastrop city limits on Tuesday morning.

"Numerous subdivisions, a local hospital, residents, outbuildings such as barns and sheds, ranch land, infrastructure such as power lines and 25 historical cabins at Bastrop State Park are threatened," she said.

Another fire killed a mother and her 18-month-old child who were unable to escape their mobile home near Gladewater, east of Dallas. KETK-TV said the fire, which spread to 1,300 acres, had burned six homes and 15 other buildings.

Texas has been having one of its worst wildfire seasons ever. Since December 2010, 20,900 fires have been reported and more than 1,000 homes burned, 700 of them in the past week, the American-Statesman reported.

Gov. Rick Perry, who temporarily gave up his presidential campaign because of the fires, said at a news conference Monday that firefighters still had "a long way to go to contain this thing," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

"It was a surreal experience," Perry said after touring the fire area. "I have seen a number of big fires in my life. This one is as mean-looking as I ever seen because it is so close to the city."

Firefighters from out of state have come to Texas to help in the effort.

Several other fires in the Texas Hill Country were at least partly contained Tuesday, the American-Statesman said.

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