- (Reuters/Mike Stone)
Huge smoke from a raging wildfire was still filling the sky when one evacuee in Texas returned home Friday. But he found his home still standing thanks to a statue of the Virgin Mary that he believes “stopped” the fire.
The Texas wildfire has been burning for days across Central Texas and has incinerated about 1,400 homes and tens of thousands of acres of land. It has burned every yard and everything on them in the Ranch Crest Subdivision of Montgomery County, Texas, CNN reported. “But miraculously all the homes here are still standing.”
The fire line came right up to a barely two-foot tall statue of the Virgin Mary placed on two stones and resting against a tree in the Garcia’s garden, and then stopped suddenly.
Garcia discovered this after he returned home for the first time after four days, and thanked the Virgin Mary. “She protected our home, everybody’s homes. We prayed to it before we left to protect everybody’s homes,” he told CNN, pointing toward the statue outside his house.
A firefighter described the fire in the area, saying, “When you get in there, it starts running. You got to try to run out, you got to try to get out before the fire does.”
However, firefighters reported some progress Friday. The fire in and around Bastrop, about 25 miles east of Austin, officially remained 30 percent contained, but crews had surrounded and closed in on the flames and no new homes were reported destroyed overnight, according to The Associated Press.
The authorities were prepared to deploy a converted DC-10 jetliner capable of dropping 12,000 gallons of fire retardant on the blaze, but the plane was not immediately needed in Bastrop, a Texas Forest Service spokeswoman told the newswire. “We believe the [fire’s] forward progress has been stopped; thank God for that,” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was quoted as saying.
Thousands of evacuees still couldn’t return to their homes for a sixth day as trees were burning underground and loose power lines were hanging from scorched poles, the newswire added.
Texas is battling the worst wildfire season in state history. In the past seven days alone, Texas Forest Service has responded to 140 fires that have scorched more than 154,300 acres.