September 23, 2020

Wildfire destroys nearly 500 homes in Texas

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BASTROP, Texas (AP) — Calmer winds Tuesday should help firefighters battling a wildfire that has destroyed nearly 500 homes in Central Texas and forced thousands of residents to evacuate to shelters to avoid the blaze, officials said.

Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Victoria Koenig said it is too early to say how much progress was made fighting the wildfire in Bastrop County overnight, but that there were no winds early Tuesday. The fire enveloped at least 25,000 acres Monday.

“It’s encouraging we don’t have winds right now, not like yesterday,” Koenig said early yesterday morning.

Even with the encouraging conditions, Koenig said it was a “tough, tough fire” that was raging through rugged terrain, including a ridge of hills.

“You can still see the hills glowing quite a bit,” she said.

At least 5,000 people were forced from their homes in Bastrop County about 25 miles east of Austin, and about 400 were in emergency shelters, officials said Monday. School and school-related activities were canceled Tuesday.

Gov. Rick Perry told NBC’s “Today” show that more than 50 fires were burning across the state.

“We’re a long way from having these under control,” Perry said.

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