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Texas on fire

LilOlLady

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TEXAS ON FIRE.

LIke Christie during the hurricane, Perry now dealing with the state on fire has become a sniviling little b**** asking for what from whom? Federal Government help whose fire responding workers has been cut. iF Texas is doing so well economically, why have so many state and city jobs been cut?

BURN TEXAS BURN.
 
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waltky

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Big wildfire in Texas burnin' up peoples' houses...
:eek:
Wildfire destroys 500 homes in Texas
Wed, Sep 07, 2011 - ‘MEAN-LOOKING’ BLAZE: State capital Austin is so far not in danger, despite the destruction of homes and the evacuation of 5,000 people 40km away in Bastrop County
A roaring wildfire raced through rain-starved farm and ranchland in central Texas, destroying about 500 homes during a rapid advance that was fanned in part by howling winds from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. At least 5,000 people were forced from their homes in Bastrop County about 40km east of Austin, and about 400 were in emergency shelters, officials said. Strong winds and drought conditions allowed the fire to travel quickly over somewhat hilly terrain, burning through pine and cedar trees and wiping out housing subdivisions as well as ranchland. The blaze consumed as much as 10,000 hectares along a line that stretched for about 26km, Texas Forest Service officials said on Monday.

On Sunday, about 320km to the northeast in Gladewater, a 20-year-old woman and her 18-month-old daughter died when a fast-moving wildfire gutted their mobile home. That fire was out on Monday, although several other major blazes continued to burn in at least four other counties in central and north Texas. Huge clouds of smoke soared into the sky and hung over downtown Bastrop, a town of about 6,000 people along the Colorado River. The fire was far enough away from Austin that the state capital was not threatened, officials said. Firefighters lined up on a state highway outside Bastrop and converged around homes as they caught fire, hoping to save them. Helicopters and planes loaded with water could be seen flying to and from the fire. When winds increased, flames would flare up and pop out over the tops of trees.

The wildfire destroyed 476 homes and about 250 firefighters were working around the clock, using bulldozers and pumper trucks against the fire, Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald said. Mike Fischer, the county emergency management director, said the fire is “nowhere near controlled” and that a separate, smaller blaze south of the city was growing larger. “I wasn’t going to evacuate, but then the smoke got blacker and blacker and it was like: ‘OK, time to go,’” said Gina Thurman, 47, an analyst for the Texas Workforce Commission. “Waiting is the most frustrating thing,” she said, choking back tears as she sat by herself in the shade on a curb outside Ascension Catholic Church, one of several shelter sites. “You’re sitting there and you don’t know anything, but your house is probably burning.”

The new outbreak led Texas Governor Rick Perry to return home to Texas, cutting short a visit to South Carolina where he was campaigning for the Republican nomination for US president. He also canceled a trip to California. Perry viewed the fire from the air and conferred with local officials. He said seeing the fire was a “surreal” experience. “I’ve seen a number of big fires in my life,” he said. “This is as mean-looking as I’ve ever seen, particularly because it was so close to the city.”

Since December last year, wildfires in Texas have claimed 1.4 million hectares, an area the size of the state of Connecticut, Perry said. The fires have destroyed more than 1,000 homes, he said. Authorities mobilized ground and air forces to fight the largest of at least 63 fires that broke out in Texas since Sunday, as high winds from what was then Tropical Storm Lee swept into Texas, which has endured its worst drought since the 1950s. “It’s still putting up a lot of smoke and it’s scary,” Jan Amen, a Texas Forest Service spokeswoman said.

Wildfire destroys 500 homes in Texas - Taipei Times

See also:

4 Dead in Texas Wildfires
Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 - The death toll from wildfires burning out of control in the parched U.S. state of Texas has risen to four with more than 1,200 firefighters struggling against the flames.
Republican Governor Rick Perry cut short a presidential campaign appearance in South Carolina Monday to rush back to his home state. More than 180 fires have erupted across the state in the past week. Five thousand residents have been driven from their homes, nearly 48,000 hectares of land have been destroyed, and more than 1,000 housed have burned.

Some Texas residents had hoped for some needed rain from Tropical Storm Lee, which came ashore Sunday in neighboring Louisiana. But Lee only helped create more wind, making firefighters' jobs even harder.

The White House says the Obama administration has approved seven federal grants to Texas authorities to help with the firefighting efforts. The entire state is suffering through a nearly year-long drought which has made many areas dangerously hot and dry — the perfect conditions for wildfires.

http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2011/09/06/4-dead-in-texas-wildfires/
 
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waltky

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24 New Fires Erupt In Texas...
:eek:
More wildfires erupt in Texas as it faces worst dry spell since 1895
September 10, 2011 - State issues hotel vouchers for those in shelters; Texas experiences 24 more wildfires, which are mostly small; More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed so far; White House declares a disaster in Texas late Friday
In a dry spell unseen since 1895, Texas added 24 new wildfires burning 1,154 acres to a disaster that has so far torched more than 1,000 homes, the state's Forest Service said Saturday. In all, Texas has experienced 179 fires over 170,686 acres the past week, the service said. The past 10 months have been the driest in Texas since 1895, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said. The destruction toll prompted President Barack Obama on Friday night to declare that a major disaster exists in Texas.

Firefighters reported gains, however, in battling the most damaging of the disasters Saturday: containment of the 34,068-acre Bastrop County Complex fire near Austin was improved to 40% from 30%, said Jack Horner, spokesman for the federal Southern Area Incident Management Team, one of 17 national fire teams for federal lands. Added Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald at a Saturday press conference: "This time is trying, but we're going to make it through." Officials Saturday warned residents to stay out of affected areas until infrastructure is proven safe. "While the fire moved fast the process of recovery will not be as fast," said state Sen. Kirk Watson.

McDonald also announced the reopening of state Highway 71. Authorities said 182 vouchers were issued so victims can move from shelters to hotels during the rebuilding process. In the wake of the fire, two people were found dead this week during searches of the charred subdivisions, the Texas Forest Service said. One person was identified Saturday as Vickie Keenan, 58, said Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering. The fire has destroyed an estimated 1,386 homes in Bastrop County; crews have confirmed the destruction of 622 of those homes, McDonald said.

The Bastrop County Complex fire now includes the 719-acre Union Chapel wildfire, but on Saturday morning, all Union Chapel residents were allowed to return to their homes, officials said. The Union Chapel fire was 90% contained Saturday, officials said. While crews sought control over the fire's perimeter, an infrared flight over the burn area Friday night showed interior hot spots where surviving vegetation has caught fire, Horner told CNN. "We're still fighting the fire and saving houses within the perimeter of the fire," Horner said. "The fire didn't burn all of the vegetation, and now that the winds have picked up again, the embers come loose, and the remaining vegetation catches fire and threatens other houses. "So it's not over. There are a lot of hazards out there. We have stump holes still burning, and we have crews in there trying to put the smoke out," Horner said.

More More wildfires erupt in Texas as it faces worst dry spell since 1895 - CNN.com
 

waltky

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Number of homes destroyed, people missing rises...
:eek:
Texas fire destroys 1,554 homes, 17 people missing
Sep 11,`11 - The number of homes destroyed by a Texas wildfire has risen to 1,554 and is expected to further increase as firefighters enter more areas where the blaze has been extinguished, officials said Sunday. Seventeen people remain unaccounted for.
Bastrop County officials joined by Democratic U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett sought to provide new information to hundreds of residents evacuated from their homes a week ago when blustering wind whipped up by Tropical Storm Lee swept across parched, drought-stricken Texas, helping to spark more than 190 wildfires statewide. The worst of the fires has consumed more than 34,000 acres in this area 30 miles southeast of Austin. While sharing the bad news that the tally of destroyed homes will increase, officials also told some 100 residents who gathered at a news conference on Sunday that people would begin going back into the scorched areas on Monday. A detailed plan will allow residents to slowly enter the evacuated areas over the coming week as firefighters and emergency responders ensure the land has properly cooled, hotspots are extinguished and the blaze is contained.

Tensions and frustrations boiled over at a similar gathering on Saturday when residents demanded to be allowed to return to their neighborhoods to see what remains of their homes and attempt to salvage a few belongings. Many people were given only minutes to evacuate as the raging blaze surrounded homes and neighborhoods. Some had time to only gather a few important belongings. Others left with only the clothes on their back. Still, Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering said there was no immediate concern for the lives of the 17 people who remain unaccounted for. "They could have been on vacation," he said. George Helmke, 77, a retired Delta airlines gate agent, is scheduled to return to his home on Thursday. A police roadblock some 150 yards from his home is preventing him from accessing his property even though there is no fire damage. "It's almost inhumane and I'm very frustrated," Helmke said. "They've had us out eight days already." The fire has prevented him from taking heart and esophagus medication he has in his house. "These are expensive medications. I tell these folks that, but they just sort of brush you off," Helmke said.

The federal government on Friday declared Texas a disaster area, paving the way for individuals to get financial aid. Doggett said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will incur 75 percent of the costs of fighting the fires, and families will be eligible for up to $30,000 to pay for expenses not covered by insurance policies, such as hotel bills, temporary housing and even construction costs. "The $30,000 can only go so far toward the expenses that some of you have," Doggett said. "But I think it can be a lot of assistance." On Monday, schools will open for the first time since the Bastrop blaze erupted. So many people are living in the town's Super 8, Best Western and Holiday Inn that school buses will stop at all three. County emergency management director Mike Fisher said the Bastrop blaze is now 50 percent contained. "We're gaining every hour every shift," Fisher said.

The monster blaze that has done the most damage to Bastrop resulted when two fires joined a week ago. Investigators have been focused on containing the blaze and won't know for several weeks what caused it, Pickering said. Officials are investigating reports of arson in smaller fires, he said. "We had reports from around the community of vehicles driving around that we suspect are starting fires," Pickering said. "I have no confirmation of that." North of Houston, meanwhile, firefighters say a tri-county blaze that has consumed more than 20,000 acres and destroyed nearly 60 homes is also half contained.

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waltky

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Perceived delay in federal response leads to frustration for wildfire victims...
:confused:
Frustration grows for Texas wildfire evacuees
9 Sept.`11 — Residents left homeless by a massive Central Texas wildfire turned their attention Friday to what they need to move forward, with some voicing frustration over a perceived delay in federal response even as early signs of recovery appeared in reopened neighborhoods.
Firefighters focused on extinguishing hotspots and had isolated remaining flames from the blaze that has burned for almost a week in and around the city of Bastrop, destroying nearly 1,400 homes and sweeping across about 45 square miles of rain-starved landscape. "We believe the forward progress (of the fire) has been stopped, thank God for that," Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told evacuated residents gathered at the fire command center. Still, thousands of evacuees were prevented from returning to their homes for a sixth day because trees continued to burn underground, loose power lines hung from scorched poles and more than 800 firefighters were working to tamp down the remainder of the fire 25 miles east of Austin. "It's just really frustrating," said Dee Redenius, 40, who came to the fire command center for answers. "You want to know if your house is there or if it's not. … They don't let you in, you know. You can't get assistance."

Dewhurst said the state is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state emergency management personnel on specific fire declarations. FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Racusen said on Friday the agency "received the first request from the governor for individual aid to help Texas residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the fires, or who suffered other personal losses." She said FEMA would "work with the White House to review this request as expeditiously as possible." Dewhurst also made a public plea for President Obama to make a major disaster declaration that he said would remove red tape and give the state access to more resources. Hours later, White House officials announced that Obama had signed a declaration declaring a major disaster exists in Texas. The move allows federal funding to be made available to individuals in Bastrop County. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs. "We need help yesterday … Mr. President, we need a statewide disaster declaration right away," Dewhurst said prior to Obama's declaration.

Texas is in the midst of its worst wildfire outbreak in state history. A perilous mix of hot temperatures, strong winds and a historic drought spawned the Bastrop-area fire, the largest of the nearly 190 wildfires the state forest service says erupted this week, killing four people, destroying more than 1,700 homes and forcing thousands to evacuate. The Texas Forest Service said Friday that the Bastrop fire had racked up a bill of at least $1.2 million so far. But the agency cautioned the figure was an early estimate and was expected to climb. The early price tag includes firefighting costs but not damage caused by the blaze. A DC-10 jet originally meant to dump fire retardant on the Central Texas wildfires was diverted Friday to help firefighters with a stubborn 22,000-acre blaze straddling three rural counties northwest of Houston. The fire in Montgomery, Grimes and Waller counties forced some people in the area to leave their homes, but was not threatening any towns or cities, Texas Forest Service spokesman Ralph Collum said.

In Bastrop, tables set up at the entrance to a neighborhood that had reopened a day earlier filled up with donated clothing and toiletries. A first aid station was assembled and streets began to buzz with tree-trimming crews and building contractors. Officials also announced that schools would reopen Monday. But Bastrop Independent School District superintendent Steve Murray said, "We anticipate the homeless student count in Bastrop ISD to triple, quadruple or even more." To deal with that, school officials were developing plans to pick up students at hotels, shelters and other locations. Monica Turner, 34, was growing more frustrated every day. She had seen photographs of her family's house in ashes. "We have pictures, but pictures don't do any good when you need to have closure and you need to see it face to face," she said. "I need to have that closure so that I can go and move on."

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