EASTLAND, Texas “Texas fire crews made progress on Saturday against a massive forest fire complex that killed a deputy sheriff and burned at least 50 homes, officials said.
“Progress has been made, but firefighting has intensified with rising temperatures and lower humidity,” said Matt Ford, a spokesman for Texas A&M Forest Services. He said about 25% of the flames had been contained, compared to about 4% late Friday, as the fire burned dense bushes and grass fields.
The fires burned about 130 square miles (330 square kilometers), including about 70 square miles (185 square kilometers) in the Eastland complex, according to the agency. This area is about 120 miles (193 kilometers) west of Dallas.
Gusty winds are expected to return on Sunday, again raising the threat of wildfires to critical levels in western and central Texas, Ford said.
“We predict that the harshness of the weather will increase,” Ford said Sunday. “Fire activity may increase depending on weather conditions (but) restricted containment lines” so far.
The forecast of the National Meteorological Service for the region predicts high temperatures until the low 80s on Sunday with winds of 15-20 mph (24-32 km / h) and gusts up to 30 mph (48 km / h).
The forecast also predicts a 90% chance of rain on Monday, which Ford said would be welcome, but the winds could shift and divert the fire in another direction.
“Any source of water or rain will be helpful,” Ford said as he put out the blaze. “We will hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”
Gov. Greg Abbott said late Friday that at least 50 homes had been destroyed by flames and more could be found. He declared disaster in the 11 counties hardest hit by forest fires. Texas Forest Services told A&M that the fires could also affect parts of Oklahoma and Kansas and Nebraska, and warned of an extreme fire risk in those states.
The Eastland County Sheriff has published more details about the death of a deputy sergeant. Barbara Fenley. In a statement, the office said she was going door-to-door, prompting residents to evacuate their homes on Thursday, and “it was last heard that she would check on an elderly person.”
“In extremely deteriorating conditions and low visibility from smoke, Sergeant. Fenley fled the road and was engulfed in flames, the sheriff said in a statement.
About 18,000 people live in Eastland County and about 475 homes have been evacuated in the area, Ford said.
“We have on-site assessment teams investigating exactly how many homes have been lost,” Ford said.
Several months of dry and windy weather caused deadly wildfires in Kansas and Oklahoma, including one a few weeks ago. In the remote, western side of Nebraska’s livestock, a big forest fire burns for several days. Meteorologists said they hoped the expected rainfall early next week in the plains would reduce the risk.
The fires caused foggy conditions hundreds of miles away and triggered automated phone calls from the Houston Fire Department and the city’s emergency management service on Friday, warning residents of the area of smoke and ash.
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Firefighters are stepping up against wildfires in Texas on Saturday
Source link Firefighters are stepping up against wildfires in Texas on Saturday