State of Texas seeking federal relief in fighting wildfires

TEXAS - The state is seeking federal help in fighting wildfires that have forced hundreds of residents to evacuate and blackened tens of thousands of acres in forested East Texas.

The Texas Forest Service on Tuesday said a federal management team is needed to help coordinate efforts in Polk and Trinity counties, where a 20,000-acre blaze is burning.

Assistance also is sought for a 3,500-acre fire in Jasper County. Four National Guard Blackhawk helicopters and two Chinooks have been activated.

Forecasters say weather relief could reach Grimes County with a chance of thunderstorms Tuesday. The area is about 60 miles northwest of Houston. About 5,000 acres have burned and 1,800 homes and businesses were evacuated Monday.

Nearly 133,000 acres have burned in more than 20 current large fires statewide.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)