Central Texas Wildfire Destroys Nearly 800 Homes as Thousands Flee

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By Ravelle Mohammed, Christian Post Reporter
September 7, 2011|4:27 pm

Firefighters have started gaining ground on a deadly blaze that has raged across a drought-weary Texas for days, destroying 780 homes and forcing thousands to flee as it burned through 33,000 acres of land in Bastrop, located near Austin.

Winds brought in by Tropical Storm Lee fanned the fire into an inferno over the weekend. However, crews were able to make some headway as winds calmed late Tuesday into Wednesday.

The Bastrop wildfire, which began Sunday afternoon, was 30 percent contained as of Wednesday morning.

"It's the first day we've been able to say we have some of it buttoned up. We're going to keep working at it," Jan Amen, Texas Forest Service spokeswoman in Bastrop County, told the Los Angeles Times.

The Bastrop blaze is the most disastrous of the fires that have erupted across Texas in the past week. Dozens of wildfires have torched over 1,000 homes and caused at least two deaths.

Texas Task Force 1, an elite search and rescue team that was sent to New York City following the 9/11 attacks and to New Orleans after the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina, will be aiding in Bastrop.

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Bastrop County is located about 30 miles east of Austin and the current blaze has destroyed more homes than any other single wildfire in Texas history. Around 5,000 people were forced to evacuate as the fire raged, destroying nearly 800 homes.

Residents were still unable to return to their homes Wednesday afternoon, but officials have been working on a re-entry plan as well as compiling a partial list of confirmed homes that have been destroyed.

"I think it will give some type of relief to individuals who just don't know," said Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald the New York Times wrote.

According to the Bastrop County top elected official, the fire was "catastrophic."

"Bastrop is no longer the same," Judge McDonald said, "You used to come through Bastrop and you saw the pine trees. Now all you see is tar."

 

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