More fires flare up while cleanup starts for some

More fires flare up while cleanup starts for some

30 January 2008

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Texas, USA — A day after about two dozen wildfires burned about 19,000 acres across Texas, more blazes sprang up Wednesday while some residents sifted through the charred rubble of their homes.

Gary Karr spent the day moving debris away from the blackened building that was his mobile home moving business near Reno in Parker County, west of Fort Worth. The building sustained about $100,000 in damage but was not destroyed, although his pickup, much of his equipment and hundreds of tires were.

“It’s just one of them things that happens,” Karr said. “There’s not much you can do about it, but I’m very grateful that even though we lost a lot, they saved a lot too.”

His was one of about three dozen homes or businesses, mostly in Parker and Wise counties, in the path of wildfires fueled by winds of more than 50 mph in some places. Hundreds of acres of hay also were lost.

The humidity increased and winds decreased a bit Wednesday, but with conditions still ripe for fires, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for about 60 percent of the state.

Some hot spots reignited in Tarrant and Parker counties, while some new blazes started in Young, Wise, Palo Pinto, Denton, Cooke and Johnson counties in North Texas, officials said. The Texas Forest Service helped fight fires in about a dozen East Texas counties on Wednesday. No injuries were immediately reported.

To deal with the continued wildfire threat, seven Texas Military Forces utility helicopters were activated in Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas-Forth Worth area, according to Gov. Rick Perry’s office. One CH-47 helicopter is on standby in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Perry on Wednesday issued a state disaster proclamation for 152 counties, allowing them to be eligible for state assistance. Burn bans are already in place in those counties.

The largest fire was in South Texas, a 12,000-acre blaze that spread from Duval to Brooks County and was not put out until early Wednesday morning, more than 12 hours after it started. The blaze charred pastures but did not reach any homes, thanks to the work of nearly 140 firefighters from multiple agencies, officials said.

“It was one huge, massive fire,” said Tony Pena, emergency coordinator and fire marshal for nearby Hidalgo County. “The wind was blowing just the right way, but it finally died down, and that really helped us.”

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