Wildfires Burn Tens of Thousands of Acres Across Texas

April 10, 2009

Smoke from wildfires burning across North and West Texas is blowing into Austin and other locations in the center of the state, and Dallas-area residents are under an air-quality warning as a result of the fires. The Texas Forest Service says wildfires burning in different locations across a large portion of the state have caused evacuations, and destroyed multiple homes and structures in their path.

“Definite numbers are still difficult to report at this time due to the vast scope of this disaster,” the TFS reported in an announcement released April 10. The agency said it is “working to gather accurate information on civilian fatalities, injuries, structures lost and acres burned, while still protecting the citizens of the state and their property.”

High winds and drought conditions caused the fires to spread rapidly and have made fighting the blazes “exceptionally dangerous,” according to the TFS. Because of the dangerous weather conditions, planes and helicopters could not be used April 9 to fight the fires.

In Montague County, northwest of Fort Worth, the small towns of Sunset and Stoneburg have been devastated, according to various media sources, including the Dallas Morning News. The TFS says several fires in Montague County covered as many as 25,000 acres.

In the town of Wheeler near the Texas/Oklahoma border, 329 homes and 60 businesses were saved but eight homes, 26 outbuildings and 15 head of cattle were lost, the forest service reported. Four firefighters suffered smoke and heat injuries and 20 additional firefighters were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. The fire is 17,000 acres and was 98 percent contained by Friday morning.

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