Arson Alleged in Texas Wildfires

January 10, 2006

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has directed the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the State Fire Marshal’s office of the Texas Department of Insurance and the Texas Forest Service to work with local authorities to investigate an estimated 70 wildfires that are believed to have been started by arsonists in recent days.

“Arson is a serious crime with devastating consequences for the lives of Texans,” Perry said in a news release. “I have asked state authorities to investigate and aggressively pursue those who have intentionally started wildfires at the risk of destroying property and lives.”

The initial arson estimate comes from the Texas Forest Service, the lead state agency in battling the fires.

As of the morning Jan. 6, 35 new fires had emerged in the previous 24 hours, destroying five homes and burning more than 2,400 acres. In the same period of time, 153 people have been evacuated and 242 homes have been saved. Some 58 missions have been flown, and 24,265 gallons of retardant have been dropped from the air in order to contain and extinguish fires across Texas.

In total, since Dec. 26, 2005, 269 fires have destroyed 244 homes and 248,370 acres of land. 4,632 Texans have been evacuated to safety and 502 homes have been saved. 1,049 missions have been flown and 1,288,385 gallons of retardant have been dropped from the air.

The state continues to have resources pre-positioned at strategic sites so they are available to quickly respond. These assets include 94 aircraft, 88 dozers, 32 engines and 1,650 first responder personnel.

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