Wildfire prompts evacuation of hundreds in Amarillo, Texas

Wildfire prompts evacuation of hundreds in Amarillo, Texas

30 May 2011

published by www.edition.cnn.com

USA — A menacing wildfire prompted the voluntary evacuation Sunday of “a few hundred people” in neighborhoods in Amarillo, Texas, police said.

Those people, in the northwest section of the city, have been asked to move out for their safety, said Amarillo police Cpl. Jerry Neufeld. An evacuation center has been set up at a local church.

Sheriff’s deputies and fire units from other communities in Potter County, as well as adjacent Randall County, have come in to help, according to Neufeld.

As of Sunday night, the fire covered about 700 acres and threatened between 150 and 300 homes, said Marq Webb, a spokesman for the Texas Forest Service. Already, eight homes and numerous smaller building had been lost.

The blaze began Sunday afternoon due to what police called “very dry conditions, with zero chance of rain.”

The National Weather Service is forecasting sustained southerly winds between 15 and 30 mph — with gusts as high as 40 mph — blowing Sunday night in the North Texas city. The winds are expected to be at least that strong Monday, with mostly sunny skies and high temperatures around 94 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is the second major wildfire threatening the area. Since Tuesday, a fire in Randall County — which is southeast of the city — has been raging and has consumed “several hundred acres down there,” according to Neufeld.

That fire had consumed about 500 acres, threatened 300 homes and prompted evacuations, according to the Texas Forest Service. Several planes have been brought in to help battle that blaze.

Webb said, by Sunday night, that blaze was 90% contained, though by then three homes and five other buildings had burned to the ground.

It is one of many battles being waged by firefighters all around the state, in what has been one of the worst wildfire seasons in history. The blazes have inflicted epic devastation and suffering on the Lone Star state, burning more than a million acres and hundreds of homes.

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