Dozens of wildfires fanned by strong winds from Tropical Depression Lee and prolonged drought conditions have torched hundreds of homes and destroyed thousands of acres of land across Texas.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has cut short his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination – returning Monday to Texas, where the fires have claimed at least two lives.
"I'll be real honest with you I'm not paying any attention to politics right now," Perry said at a press conference. "There's plenty of time to take care of that. People's lives and their possessions are in danger. That's substantially more important."
He added, "I have seen a number of big fires in my life ... this one is as mean looking as I've ever seen.”
A 20-year-old woman and her 18-month-old daughter unable to escape the flames were killed in their trailer home Sunday in Gladewater, northeast Texas.
"It's a monster, and it's zero percent contained," said Jan Amen, Texas Forest Service spokeswoman.
On Sunday the Texas Forest Service officials responded to 63 new fires, including 22 large blazes, burning on over 32,000 acres, Reuters reported.
Service authorities said the Bastrop County Complex fire, which is 16 miles long, has now spread to 25,000 acres.
According to the Texas Forest Service website, the Circle D, K.C. Estates, Pine Forest, Colovista, and Tahitian Village subdivisions of Bastrop have been evacuated. The forced evacuations of several subdivisions of the county have reached over 5,000 people.
Officials estimated that at least 476 homes have been destroyed from ongoing fires.
“It’s pretty dire,” said Justice Jones of the Forest Service Monday.
“Dozens” of aircrafts are responding to the wildfires, including four heavy airtankers, 13 aerial supervision aircrafts, and 15 single-engine airtankers, Service authorities stated.
"I urge Texans to take extreme caution as we continue to see the devastating effects of sweeping wildfires impacting both rural and urban areas of the state," said Gov. Rick Perry in a statement.
This is the worst fire season the Lone Star state has seen to date. The drought has caused over $5 billion in economic losses and 3.5 million acres have been torched since the season began in November.