EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - A Texas official says winds are calming down and that should help efforts to control wildfires that have killed one firefighter, destroyed dozens of homes and forced hundreds of evacuations on the state's parched ranchlands.
Steve Deffibaugh of the Texas Forest Service said firefighters should be able to make progress Saturday in containing blazes that have consumed hundreds of square miles in recent days.
Deffibaugh says roads reopened Saturday around Possum Kingdom Lake, allowing residents to assess damage in an area about 120 miles west of Dallas where at least 30 homes burned.
Another official says an evacuation order has been lifted in a small West Texas town.
The National Weather Service says winds should be around 10 mph Saturday. They were about five times stronger the day before.
According to a news release from the Texas Forest Service, in the past seven days, TFS has responded to
- 95 fires burning 722,891 acres.
- In the past seven days, 1,460 homes and structures have been saved on TFS fires. 151 homes and structures have been lost.
- 195 Texas counties are reporting burn bans.
Houston County, No. 251 Fire – 70 acres. Three homes threatened and saved. Fire is contained.
Trinity County, No. 254 - 61 acres. Fire is contained.
Eastland County - County Rd.104 - 1,000 acres CARRYOVER FIRES Wichita County, Wichita County Complex - Iowa West Fire, 35,000 acres, 80 percent contained. There were 7 homes and 6 out buildings lost with 27 direct saves.
Kent, Stonewall, Fisher and Scurry Counties - Cooper Mtn Ranch Fire. - 149,000 acres. There were 4 homes lost. Fire has pushed back into Scurry County as well. 15 percent containment.
Stephens County, PK West Fire and Palo Pinto County, Hohertz Fire - 45,000+ acres. 31 homes destroyed. These two fires have now merged into one long, large fire. An Incident Command Post has been established near Strawn.
Tom Green County, Wildcat Fire north of San Angelo - Firefighters worked late into the night on the Wildcat Fire. Overnight, the wind has shifted and is expected to provide relief for communities south of that fire. Aerial resources will continue to focus their efforts in that area around communities.
Currently there are approximately 1,250 firefighting personnel being managed by the Texas Forest Service from 34 states assigned to Texas fires. This figure does not include Volunteer Fire Department responders.
· Obey outdoor burning bans. Don't burn trash or debris when conditions are dry or windy. Unsafe burning of leaves, brush, household trash and other debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Texas.
· Keep lawn mowers and agricultural equipment in proper working condition and avoid rocks and other materials which might cause a spark.
In the last week, massive wildfires ranging across Texas have charred a half million acres. More.