September 5, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas — More than 1,000 homes have burned in at least 57 wildfires across rain-starved Texas, most of them in one devastating blaze close to Austin that's still raging out of control, officials said Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference near one of the fire-ravaged areas, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said more than 100,000 acres have burned in the drought-stricken state.
Perry said more than 1,000 homes have burned since Labor Day weekend, but Texas emergency management chief Nim Kidd subsequently said that number of homes has actually been lost in the past week.
The Texas Forest Service says nearly 600 of the torched homes were in Bastrop County, some 25 miles from Austin. The agency said that blaze was still uncontained Tuesday.
Calmer winds Tuesday were expected to help in the battle against wildfires that flared up when strong winds fed by Tropical Storm Lee swept across Texas over Labor Day weekend.
Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Victoria Koenig said it was too early to say how much progress was made fighting the wildfire in Bastrop County overnight. The agency says the fire has grown to 30,000 acres.
"It's encouraging we don't have winds right now, not like yesterday," Koenig said early Tuesday.
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, and about 400 were in emergency shelters, officials said Monday. School and school-related activities were canceled Tuesday.