West Texas fire crews were expected to advance Saturday against a huge forest fire complex that killed one person and burned at least 50 homes, authorities said.
Winds are expected to subside, raising hopes of a blaze attack, said Angel Lopez, a spokesman for the task force that attacks the fires near Eastland, about 120 miles west of Dallas.
However, gusty winds are expected to return on Sunday, raising the threat of wildfires to critical levels in west and central Texas, he said.
At a press conference in Eastland, Gov. Greg Abbott said late Friday that at least 50 homes had been destroyed by the flames most likely to be found. He declared a disaster in the 11 counties most affected by forest fires.
Texas A&M Forest Services warned that fires could also affect parts of Oklahoma and Kansas, and Nebraska warned of an extreme risk of fire.
The Eastland County Sheriff’s Office has released more details on the death of Assistant Sergeant Barbara Fenley. In a statement, the office said it was going door to door, causing residents to evacuate on Thursday and that “it was last heard … that it was going to check on an elderly man.”
“With extremely deteriorating conditions and poor visibility of the smoke, Sergeant Fenley stepped off the road and was engulfed in fire,” the sheriff said.
By Friday afternoon, the fire had burned about 130 square miles, about 70 square miles in the Eastland complex alone, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. Fires in that complex were only 4% contained in the last hour of Friday, with fires burning in thick bushes and grass fields.
About 18,000 people live in Eastland County. About 475 homes were evacuated in Gorman City, said Matthew Ford, a spokesman for Texas Forest Service A&M.
Several months of dry, windy weather have caused deadly wildfires in Kansas and Oklahoma. In the remote country of western Nebraska, a large forest fire has been burning for several days. Meteorologists said they hoped the rains expected early next week on all plains would reduce the risk.
“We were so dry that even an inch of rain would make a difference,” said Robb Lawson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, Kansas.
Smaller fires were burning in other parts of Texas and the low humidity and strong winds created an ideal setting for the flames to grow rapidly out of control. Texas Forest Service A&M warned of a forest fire this week due to the forecast.
The fires caused foggy conditions hundreds of miles away, and Houston officials sent automated phone messages alerting area residents to smoke and ash.
West Texas Fires: Crews Expect Advances Against Mass Fire Complex | Texas
Source link West Texas Fires: Crews Expect Advances Against Mass Fire Complex | Texas