Firefighters across West and Central Texas continued to battle wildfires Tuesday that burned at least 200,000 acres, injured several people and forced the temporary evacuation of the 1,500 residents of Robert Lee, Texas, an official with the Texas Forest Service said.
Fire officials were waiting for daylight Tuesday to assess the scope of one massive wildfire stretching across Sterling, Reagan and Irion counties in Central Texas that could be as large as 500,000 acres, said David Abernathy, an incident commander with the forest service. Airplanes will fly over the fire during daylight Tuesday to obtain more accurate mapping data, he said.
At one point the blaze moved so quickly – fueled by 50 mph winds – that flames were consuming an area the size of “a football field every minute,” Abernathy said.
Three firefighters were injured in Archer County when two fire trucks collided head on after one swerved around a car that pulled out into the road, Abernathy said. One of the firefighters was airlifted to an area hospital, an Archer County dispatcher said. He survived but his condition was unknown.
Abernathy said he was aware of at least two dozen separate fires across the state and expected there were “many, many more that we won’t know about” until local fire departments report in.
At least 18 counties reported wildfires to state emergency management officials. There are 25 local disaster proclamations in effect.
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