Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thousands Evacuated as Wildfire Destroys almost 500 Homes in Texas

Firefighters trying to control a wind-fueled wildfire that has destroyed almost 500 homes in Central Texas were looking for a few overnight hours of diminished winds as thousands of evacuees spent the night away from their in danger homes.

Slack winds were predictable after midnight Tuesday and could enable firefighters to make progress on the enormous blaze racing through rain-starved farm and ranchland, authorities said. Fanned in part by howling winds from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, the blaze quickly grew Monday to at least 25,000 acres.

"You have to be hopeful and at the same time prepared for the worst," Texas Forest Service spokesman John Nichols said Monday night, acknowledging the weather's randomness.

At least 5,000 people were required 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 behavior were canceled Tuesday.

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